Italian companies develop environmentally friendly cement brake pads

The EU is funding the research to lower aerosol emissions from brakes.

As the auto industry grows more aware of its ecological impact, manufacturers are looking for innovative ways to keep producing high-quality components while reducing their effect on the environment. One of the more ingenious ideas comes from Italy, where two companies have teamed up for "Project Cobra," working to develop cement-based brake pads.

The two organizations are auto component maker Brembo and construction materials company Italcementi, working in conjunction with the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research. The European Union is funding the research through The LIFE Programme, which finances projects that help achieve the EU's environmental goals.

The project began at the end of last year and is expected to last about four years, with more than 40 researchers involved. The plan is to develop a hydraulic binder composition that can perform at the same level as traditionally used phenolic resins. These resins are ideal for brake pads because they are resistant to high friction and contact temperature.

The use of a hydraulic binder could reduce energy consumption by about 90 percent and water consumption by as much as 95 percent, and cut down on the emission of aerosol and other particulates as well. These particulates are released during braking and contribute to air pollution.

While this project is still in its very early stages, it is far from the only one of its kind, as legislative efforts on both sides of the Atlantic are forcing manufacturers to rethink the materials they use in their brake components. Greening's friction testing equipment can help determine the suitability of alternative compositions for all types of motor vehicles. Through our associates in Europe and Asia, we serve the international as well as the U.S. market.