Ford enhances graphene reinforced polyurethane foam for automotive components


     In the first report of the automotive industry, Ford, together with Tier I Eagle and XG Science, a graphene supplier, found a way to improve the main performance of automotive components under hood with very little graphene, i.e. lighter weight, better thermal conductivity and lower noise. The material has been referred to as xGnP graphene reinforced polyurethane (PU) foam.

Graphene is 200 times stronger than steel and is one of the most conductive materials in the world. It's a huge sound barrier, very thin and flexible. Graphene is not economically suitable for all applications, but Ford, in collaboration with Eagle Industries and XG Science, has found a way to maximize its benefits by using a small amount of graphene in fuel rail caps, pump caps and front engine caps.

Debbie Mielewski, Ford's senior technology leader, sustainability and emerging materials company, said: "The breakthrough here is not material, but how we use it. We can use a small amount, less than 50 percent, to help us achieve significant improvements in durability, sound resistance and weight loss - applications that others do not pay attention to.

In 2014, Ford began working with suppliers to study the material and how it could be used in tests of automotive components such as fuel rail caps, pump caps and front engine caps. Typically, trying to reduce the noise in the car means adding more material and weight, but graphene is the opposite. John Bull, president of Eagle Industries, said: "A small amount of graphene has a long way to go. In this case, it plays a very important role in sound absorption performance."

The mixture of graphene and PU foam is tested by Ford and suppliers. The results show that the noise is reduced by 17%, the mechanical property is increased by 20%, and the heat resistance is increased by 30% compared with the foam without graphene.

Philip Rose, CEO of XG Science, said: "We are excited about the performance advantages our products can offer to Ford and Eagle Industries." "Working with early adopters such as Ford Motor Company has demonstrated the potential of graphene in a variety of applications, and we look forward to extending our cooperation to other materials and further improving their performance." It is expected that graphene will be put into production by the end of the year, producing more than 10 parts under the hood of Ford F-150 and Mustang, and will eventually be used in other Ford vehicles.

Eagle Industries, headquartered in Wixom, Michigan, is a leading supplier of NVH components designed and manufactured for OEM and first-class communities. Headquartered in Lansing, Michigan, USA, XG Science is a leading supplier of graphene nanoplates and advanced formulations to the global OEM composite, electronic, energy and industrial markets. XG has provided unique high-performance products to more than 1,000 customers in 47 countries.

In early October, XG Science completed its first phase of expansion in its latest 64,000 square feet facility. The expansion has increased the production capacity of graphene nanoplates by 90 tons per year, bringing the total production capacity of the facility to about 180 tons per year and producing up to 18,000 tons of advanced materials per year. The second phase of the expansion is expected to be completed by the end of the year, bringing the total production of graphene nanoplates at the facility to 400 tons per year.

The total production of graphene nanoplates in two XG factories currently exceeds 200 tons per year, doubling in the next three months and reaching about 450 tons per year by the end of the year. Expand XG's mission to continue commercial graphene use in customer products of different industries.

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