Automotive giant Ford has announced that it will become the first automaker to use graphene parts in its vehicles, starting with the Mustang and F-150 by the end of 2018.
Ford acknowledges the difficulties of graphene manufacturing and use, but in partnership with Eagle Industries and XG Sciences, it has determined a way to make use of graphene reinforcement in certain components to strengthen and lighten them, as well as reduce noise. Since 2014, Ford and its partners have tested graphene-reinforced foam covers for noisy components such as the fuel rail, pumps, and belt-driven pulleys or chain-driven gears on the front of engines. The graphene is mixed with foam constituents, and the resulting parts are said to be 17% quieter, 20% stronger, and 30% more heat-resistant.
"The breakthrough here is not in the material, but in how we are using it," stated Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader for sustainability and emerging materials, in the company's statement. "We are able to use a very small amount, less than a half percent, to help us achieve significant enhancements in durability, sound resistance and weight reduction—applications that others have not focused on."
"We are excited about the performance benefits our products are able to provide to Ford and Eagle Industries," added XG Sciences CEO Philip Rose. "Working with early adopters such as Ford Motor Company demonstrates the potential for graphene in multiple applications, and we look forward to extending our collaboration into other materials, and enabling further performance improvements."
Earlier this month, XG Sciences announced the completion of the first phase of expansion in its newest 64,000 square-foot facility. The expansion has added 90 metric tons of graphene nanoplatelet production capacity, bringing the total capacity of the facility up to approximately 180 metric tons and enabling the formulation of up to 18 million kilograms of advanced materials per year.