Surface Transforms, in collaboration with electric vehicle specialists Delta Motorsport, had the opportunity to display the results of the recent Niche Vehicle Network (NVN) collaborative R&D project during the Niche Vehicle Symposium held at the Williams Conference Centre.
The Project, titled Lightweight Brakes for Electric Vehicles by application of innovative material technology, had the aim to both apply existing technology in a new area, by the application of ceramic brakes on an electric vehicle, whilst also developing new technology, a novel surface coating technology, to further enhance weight saving, improve performance and reduce cost of existing carbon ceramic brake technology.
In summary it has been proven that it is possible to design and develop a ceramic brake system for an electric vehicle with the benefit of a significant weight saving. The total weight saving for the ceramic disc system fitted to the E-4 Coupe electric vehicle was 16.6Kg, a 65% saving over the conventional steel brakes. This significant saving will add to the range and/or performance of the electric vehicle (depending on usage and battery management strategy of the vehicle), as well as improving the dynamic characteristics of the ride and steering.
In addition, theoretical calculations indicated a potential further weight saving for the front disc in the region of 50%, or approximately 1.6Kg in total, if the minimum discs design size could be realised. Whilst this minimum design size can only be realised by changes to installation of the disc on to the vehicle, it can only be made possible by the addition of the new surface coating to the ceramic disc which was the core of the R&D project. The surface coating enables the disc to operate at a significantly increased temperature, in the region of 900˚C against the conventional ST carbon ceramic discs of around 600˚C, which contributes around 30% to the potential weight saving.
The NVN’s annual collaborative R&D competition aims to accelerate the development of cleaner and more fuel efficient vehicles through more efficient propulsion systems, the use of alternative fuels, improved aerodynamics and reduced chassis and component weight.
Supported by Innovate UK, the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, the Niche Vehicle Network is a free to join independent association of over 300 niche vehicle manufacturers, specialist technology and supply chain companies. For the past ten years, it has provided funding and support to enable these companies to develop new technology and build prototype vehicles which form the basis of new sports car and motorcycles and which demonstrate that the UK industry leads the way in the adoption of lightweight materials and advanced powertrain solutions.
In addition to providing funding for R&D projects, the Network offers its members a forum for the sharing of knowledge through the hosting of a number of networking events throughout the year. These events bring its members together to share their knowledge and discuss the issues facing the niche vehicle supply chain.