Companies begin graphene research

Briggs Automotive Company (BAC) has received funding to undertake research on lightweight material graphene, with a view to pushing the technology towards production-readiness for the automotive industry.

The road-legal, single-seater supercar – the BAC Mono – received the Niche Vehicle Network (NVN) grant alongside Haydale Composite Solutions and Pentaxia Composites and will further explore the benefits of using graphene in composite body panels.

BAC became the first car manufacturer to develop a graphene-paneled car in 2016, creating graphene-enhanced carbon fibre composite rear wheelarches for Mono. The new venture will build on the success of this proof of concept project.

Graphene is made of sheets of carbon just one atom thick and is significantly lighter than standard carbon fibre. It’s also stronger than carbon fibre and steel, meaning that it can bring weight reductions of around 20% without hindering panel strength.

The NVN funding will enable BAC, Haydale and Pentaxia to develop lightweight composite materials using graphene and manufacture a novel carbon fibre composite tooling system with enhanced thermal conductivity.

The project aims to bring benefits in terms of weight reduction, CO2 emissions and manufacturing cycle times. Body panels will be installed and tested on the Mono supercar throughout the project, with the aim to reduce weight by 10% and cycles times by more than 25%.

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 new material for the wider industry.