Carbon fiber reinforced polymer, or more commonly know as simply carbon fiber, is a material of huge promise. Among its many properties, its strength to weight ratio, rigidity, and resistance to fatigue are prime reasons for different industries to use it for various applications. Just recently, Williams Advanced Engineering, the minds behind the technologies used by the Williams F1 team has released patent-pending innovations in carbon composites and their benefits to the automotive industry, and even beyond.
Two specific technologies named Racetrak and 223 are geared towards (what look to be) shell/chassis and parts production, and composite EV battery boxes, respectively. Williams shared not a lot of information on both but cost, rate, and sustainability remain at the core of their studies.
“Racetrak and 223 are just two examples of a new generation of technologies, developed and commercialized by Williams Advanced Engineering,” says Chief Technology Specialist, Lightweight Structures Iain Bomphray, the Williams Advanced Engineering innovator behind these two breakthroughs.
“We are focussing our expertise on energy management, aerodynamics, thermodynamics and lightweighting. As tools for efficiency improvement, these are all highly synergistic, so considering them as an integrated system allows us to increase significantly the total benefits,” explains Williams Advanced Engineering Technical Director Paul McNamara.
To add to that, both technologies offer comparable performance to existing solutions, but what sets them apart is that they are end-to-end, whole-life solutions that address every aspect of the manufacture, use and recycling of carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) and the way in which its remarkable properties can enable new approaches to vehicle design and manufacture.
Possibly the most obvious application for these innovations will be in the automotive industry. In a world where lightening is a primary tool to meet increasingly stringent emission and fuel economy standards, it can also support the growing segment of electric vehicles. By lowering costs from end-to-end, as was mentioned above, many more numerous benefits of carbon fiber reinforced polymer can now extend across different sectors, from railways to even wind turbines.
We in the Philippines are not new to the extensive use of “CF” either. Hoods, trunks, fenders, canards, the lightweight-but-strong material has made its way into both the car show scene and the racing scene alike. With the recent push for zero-emmision vehicles, and the recent announcement that certain electric vehicles will make their way to our country, we can only guess what impact such innovations may have in the near future.
Are we set for a different carbon "footprint"? Will such technologies usher in cheaper, stronger, greener solutions for autos and different industries? We'll have to wait, for sure. But with what Williams is on to, we may not have to hold our breath for too long.