Extended Life and Innovative Recycling of Carbon Waste for Friction Applications

Lead Research Organisation: Loughborough University
Department Name: Materials


The aim of this project is the: development of a process for the efficient re-use of polymer-based carbon fibre composite waste for the manufacture of ceramic composites for high temperature, extended life aircraft and automotive and industrial friction applications, based on both designed-for-purpose and recycled raw materials to provide rotors that will last the life of a car, extend the use of industrial brakes and clutches and, for aircraft, increase by 50-100% the landings per overhaul; development of friction materials for pads based on carbon composite waste; optimisation of friction couples for different friction applications in (a) the transport sector, being developed for automotiove and aerospace applications (and also applicable to heavy goods vehicles and rail) and (b) the industrial sector.


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Description carbon fibre reinforced plastic composite wastes have been successfully converted into carbon fibre reinforced ceramic composites that are suitable for brake discs of road vehicles.

For a carbon ceramic brake, it is the friction transfer layer on the friction surface that dictates its friction performance. Hence the research firstly provides key knowledge for optimisation of carbon ceramic composites and friction materials as the counterpart.
Exploitation Route Need further development with industry partners.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport,Other

Description A study is reported on the development of friction surface of carbon fibre reinforced ceramic composites through microstructural image registration of the surface after a range of braking stops on a laboratory-scale dynamometer test rig. It has been found that a steady friction transfer layer is developed in silicon regions; in carbon fibre/carbon and most silicon carbide regions, the friction surface is unsteady and any possible friction transfer layer is hardly built up with satisfactory longevity. Large voids and cracks/crevices are likely to be filled with transferred materials, but these compacts are susceptible to be stripped off by further braking operation. From this study, three types of friction surfaces are identified and could exist in bedding stage. Under the current testing configuration and regime, coefficient of friction increases with accumulated braking stops, and no stable friction yet appeared. The development of friction surface and its impact on the friction measurements are discussed. By under-pinning the key mechanisms and factors that govern the friction performance of carbon-fibre composites as they are coupled with different materials, our research has approved the feasibility of manufacturing carbon-fibre ceramic composites from various sources of carbonaceous matters, including carbon fibre wastes, and the innovative solutions of surface engineering to assure the friction performance for people's safety and environmentally friendly transportation, and to extend the life cycle of friction components with less cost constraint on implementing new technology. These understanding and technical developments have lent themselves to a bulk of knowledge and solutions that are exploited by industry from materials manufacturers, components suppliers to end-product manufacturers. Beneficiaries: Surface Transforms Plc, Federal-Mogul Friction Products Ltd, Alcon Components Ltd, Bentley Motor Ltd
Sector Manufacturing/ including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Cultural

Description Polymer impregnation manufacture route for the production of carbon fibre reinforced ceramic composite (CFRCC)
Amount £36,000 (GBP)
Organisation Loughborough University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2011 
End 03/2012
Description Sustainable Surface Engineered Ceramic Friction Materials (SµrFace)
Amount £392,007 (GBP)
Funding ID 100696 
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2009 
End 08/2012
Description Transport
Amount £458,312 (GBP)
Organisation Transport iNet 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2013 
End 05/2014
Description A ceramic composite layer is invented as a friction layer on top of a carbon ceramic brake disc to achieve better friction performance, particularly in a wet braking environment. 
IP Reference GB1421357.3 
Protection Patent granted
Year Protection Granted 2014
Licensed No
Impact n/a