Companies all over the world seem hell-bent on bringing carbon fiber and its weight and strength advantages into the hands of the everyday motorist.
After Ford’s display of a prototype CFRP bonnet earlier this week, Australian-based company Carbon Revolution launched the CR9, the world’s first one-piece production carbon fiber wheel.
Carbon Revolution says that this is the result of “nearly a decade” of research and development. The benefits in weight and rigidity have been established both by its own testing as well as with premium European OEMs.
Company CEO Jake Dingle says that the carbon wheel is not only 40-50 percent lighter compared to conventional aluminum wheels, but in testing, it has also proved that it exceeds OEM standards.
“Thanks to the laws of physics, the outcome is a performance step change of breathtaking magnitude”, said Dingle, who added, “Drivers will experience a significantly improved vehicle”.
Brett Gass is Carbon Revolution’s engineering director as well as one of its founding members. He has been involved in the project right from the start and in the past decade, he and his team have used a development strategy similar to those used by NASA and the Department of Defense.
Gass says that carbon fiber wheels are the next major evolution in automotive as well as aerospace wheel development.
“Creating a composite wheel that is made entirely in one piece from continuous fibers is particularly challenging given the significant geometric complexities”, Gass explained. “We have successfully developed an architecture that optimizes the outstanding properties of continuous carbon fibers through the complex range of operational loads that are seen on a vehicle.”
Fitting the CR9 to existing vehicles can improve fuel consumption by 2-4 percent and reduce CO2 emissions accordingly. Moreover, aerodynamic wheel designs can increase efficiency up to 5 percent, and a full integration, in cooperation with the vehicle manufacturer, can yield an improvement of 6 percent or more, according to the company.
Carbon Revolution says its radical design meets all known OEM and Certification Body requirements, including SAE 2530, TUV German Aftermarket and German OEM AK-LH 08 standards.
The carbon wheels are initially available in sizes 19x8.5 & 19x12 and are designed to mount directly on Porsche’s 911. The company says they are compatible with factory tire pressure monitoring systems, adding that in the following months, a wider range of sizes and fitments will be released on the market.
By Andrew Tsaousis