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New research programme aims to make higher performance brakes

16 September 2010

Federal Mogul is providing specialist expertise for a UK government backed research programme that aims to modify the surface of brake discs, optimising friction performance. The new technology could be used to reduce the lifetime cost of very high performance ceramic braking systems and could allow engineers to tailor the friction properties of different materials more closely to the application.

A UK-based consortium is addressing this challenge by developing a new surface treatment that will give excellent friction and wear properties to brake discs. The new research programme, called SµRFACE and supported by investment from the UK Government-funded Technology Strategy Board, will develop a surface treatment process to give high friction, consistent feel, low wear, good heat dissipation and improved acoustic performance.
“This is an enabling technology,” says Federal-Mogul’s technical manager David Holme, based at the company’s Friction Technology Centre near Derby in the UK. “By separating the surface properties of the disc from the bulk material properties, we hope to exceed the performance of today’s best systems, but potentially at a much lower cost.”

Other participants in the project are Bentley Motors, Surface Transforms (a manufacturer of advanced ceramic discs); Alcon (a specialist in high performance automotive brake systems) and Faiveley Transport (a rail industry brake technology specialist). The academic partner is Loughborough University, which is responsible for much of the early development work.

“Coating the disc will remove any compromise between the bulk material properties and the surface, allowing both to be optimised for their function,” explains Holme. “It also offers the exciting prospect of being able to recoat worn discs at a significant cost saving compared to replacement.”

“Many industries are likely to benefit from this research,” adds Ramzi Hermiz, senior vice president, Federal-Mogul Vehicle Safety and Protection.  “The railway industry could save bogie weight, allowing trains to run faster on a given track; paper mills could benefit from more consistent tensioning of rollers and, of course, premium car manufacturers could offer the highest level of braking performance at a reduced cost. It’s a tremendously exciting programme that will open significant commercial opportunities for Federal-Mogul and the other consortium members.”

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