Researchers working on next generation brake pad

The fevered pace with which technology is improving has served as a major boon to automotive enthusiasts and highway traffic safety advocates. Almost literally, passenger vehicles and trucks can stop on a dime, infused with high level performance capacity that can – and has – saved lives, perhaps too numerous to count.

But since technological innovation never remains in neutral, scientists aren't pumping the brakes on how they can improve braking systems even further, with a new polymer-based brake pad that could be the next big thing in functionality optimization.

"The design of the brakes allows them to self-lubricate."

Researchers from the University of British Columbia, Sharif University of Technology in Iran and the University of Toronto are currently in the midst of a project that involves mixing carbon fibers with brake pads made from a complex blend of synthetic materials, which help reduce the effects of wear and tear while maintaining the proper friction they need to bring vehicles to a stop. The design of the brakes also allows them to self-lubricate, which also help improve performance and can lengthen their lifespan.

Mohammad Arjmand, lead researcher and an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia's School of Engineering, said these brake pads hold the potential to be revolutionary.

"No researcher in Canada is currently working in this area,"Arjmand explained in a press release from the University of British Columbia's Okanagan campus. "[This] work is very important for the automotive and railroad industries."

Three types of brakes
According to Arjmand, braking systems on automobiles typically break down into three categories: organic, ceramic and metallic. While each type has its strengths, they also all have their inherent flaws. For instance, metallic brakes tend to be noisier while organic brake pads are much quieter. Then again, while the organic variety are relatively noiseless, their composition weakens their overall durability and shelf life.

With the new technology that he and his colleagues are working on, polymer-based brake pads help to combine all of the positive elements from organic, metallic and ceramic while reducing the negative. It may also enable manufacturers to save on costs without sacrificing quality or safety by virtue of their being smaller and less labor intensive to produce than the prototypical braking pad.

"This new research looks at things like composite breakdown during high temperatures, durability, friction and wear testing," Arjmand further stated. "Our findings show that the newly designed carbon fiber polymer brakes represent an acceleration in the science of deceleration and could be a real boon for the industry and consumers alike."

"Deadly car accidents dropped 1.8% in 2017 from the previous year."

Highway fatalities fell in 2017
Based on the most recent statistics available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37,133 people in the U.S. lost their lives in traffic accidents in 2017. That's a 1.8% rate of decline from 2016, when the total was 37,806. It continues an overarching trend of increasingly fewer deadly crashes on an annual basis since the 1970s. While most vehicular crashes in America are behavior related – over 90% – roughly 2% stem from vehicle components that malfunctioned or failed to work.

Arjmand said he's confident that through the continued development of advanced technologies and nanomaterial understanding, braking systems will be all the better for it, as polymers can enhance the capabilities of brake pads while lessening the natural forces that weaken their quality over time, like weathering as well as their creation and exposure to heat.

More automakers are arming their vehicles with automatic emergency braking and refining these systems as the technology becomes available and is proven reliable. Nissan, Honda and Toyota are three of 10 manufacturers that have committed to equipping the majority of their models with AEB by September 2022. Toyota, so far, has the most, totaling 2.2 million, according to government data.

It's not enough to merely have brake pads; they need to work and perform in all facets and all situations, Greening Associates can diagnose your braking systems as a complimentary service simply by choosing us. There's no cost or obligation. Please get in touch with us to schedule an appointment.