After MOU, Bosch introduces copper-free brake pads

Runoff from brakes pollutes America's waterways.

Last month, this blog reported on the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the states and the auto industry to reduce the presence of copper and other polluting components in brake pads. The agreement will gradually limit copper levels to 0.5 percent by 2025, and also affects asbestiform fibers, cadmium, chromium-6 salts, lead and mercury.

One of the first manufacturers to act in anticipation of these changes has been Robert Bosch GmbH, which has introduced copper-free materials in several of its lines of brake pads. The company also announced the development of a copper-free ceramic friction formulation.

Bosch began work on these compounds after California and Washington became the first states to limit copper use in 2010. Similar legislation has since been introduced in New York, Oregon and Rhode Island, where it remains pending. Copper dust from car brakes often ends up in waterways, where it harms amphibians, fish and plants.

"Our new copper-free material was developed over several years and has undergone various endurance tests," said brake components director of product management Robert Backode. "Much like the copper-free alloy used to replace copper in the aerospace industry, this material too, has proven to be successful in automotive use, ensuring high strength and light weight. Test data of the new copper-free material confirms improved performance over copper-based materials."

Greening designs and manufactures several machines to test the quality of brake pads and friction materials, with many leading automakers relying on our services. As the industry works to adjust the composition of its products to changing legal requirements, we can help to ensure that their performance remains at a high level.