Having recently received a round of funding Briggs Automotive Company (BAC) is to undertake research into graphene, an extremely lightweight material, with the ultimate aim of taking the technology into production in automotive applications.
BAC became the first car manufacturer in the world to develop a graphene-paneled car in 2016, creating graphene-enhanced carbon-fiber composite rear wheel arches for its Mono. The new venture will build on the success of this proof-of-concept project and explore further how the material can be used.
Graphene is made of sheets of carbon just one atom thick and is significantly lighter than standard carbon fiber. It’s also stronger than carbon fiber and steel, meaning that weight reductions of around 20% can be achieved without hindering panel strength.
BAC was awarded the Niche Vehicle Network (NVN) grant alongside Haydale Composite Solutions and Pentaxia Composites. BAC will essentially be the testbed for the technology and potentially the catalyst for larger-volume opportunities across the market. Body panels will be installed and tested on the Mono supercar, with the aim to reduce weight by 10% and cycles times by more than 25%.
The NVN funding will enable BAC, Haydale and Pentaxia to develop lightweight composite materials using graphene and manufacture a novel carbon-fiber composite tooling system with enhanced thermal conductivity – hopefully to create a new body panel system with improved mechanical and thermal performance.
Ultimately the goal of the project is to achieve a weight reduction, reduced CO2 emissions and quicker manufacturing cycle times in automotive applications.
A route to market will then be established for new prepreg material technology through niche vehicle manufacturers and the premium and luxury automotive sector – potentially resulting in a game-changing new material for the wider industry.
Neill Briggs, co-founder and director of product development, BAC, said, “We are delighted to have received this Niche Vehicle Network funding and are excited to get started on this production-readiness project with our partners Haydale and Pentaxia.
“Niche vehicle manufacturers are of paramount importance in the automotive industry, acting as stepping stones for mass-market production technology – which is where we aim to place our graphene-enhanced composite body panels in the near future.”