In many ways, brake dust is the bane of the environment's existence. It's a known air pollutant that adversely contributes to the earth's atmosphere, and recent research funded by the Medical Research Foundation suggests that it can attack healthy immune cells to the same degree as exhaust from diesel engines.
In light of these factors and more, a number of automakers are going to greater lengths to limit the emission of such particulates. Chief among them is Porsche, as the German luxury automotive manufacturer in late 2017 introduced the world to its Porsche Surface Coated Brakes. At the time of the dispatch, the news was more forward-looking, in that they weren't yet available for commercial release. Nearly three years later, the technology is out, as the feature comes standard on one of the company's more popular models.
"PSCBs are custom designed to dramatically reduce the amount of brake dust that an automobile naturally gives off."
As first reported by Car and Driver, PSCBs are a complimentary inclusion in all Cayenne Turbo models, one of the German automaker's more prominent models that sells for a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $126,500. PSCBs are custom designed to dramatically reduce the amount of brake dust an automobile naturally releases into the atmosphere when motorists are on the road. Indeed, Porsche says the difference is practically night and day compared to standard iron disc brake pads, cutting the amount by approximately 90%.
Technology also enhances fade resistance
In addition to the fact that these pesky particulates are harmful to the planet, they can also hinder an automobile's performance by attaching to its tires, a process which Car and Driver noted derives from an automobile's rotors, not its pads. However, that's no longer much of an issue after Porsche teamed with power tool company Bosch in the development of a special tungsten carbide-based coating. At just four thousandths of an inch thick, this coating is sprayed onto the the discs of a PSCB-equipped vehicle, which helps to make them significantly harder and more resilient. Not only does this diminish brake dust production, it also improves fade resistance, which is caused by high operating temperatures coming from the engine and its various working parts. Furthermore, Porsche says PSCBs stay stronger for longer, up to 30% longer compared to conventional iron-clad brake discs.
Matthias Leber, a mechanical engineer and brake expert at the Porsche Development Center, noted in a company press release that PSCBs are a game changer, as the technology is truly state of the art. The company was only able to arrive at the solution after many years of extensive research and exhaustive development.
"Believe me, it was a long road getting here," Leber explained. "Otherwise, we would have offered it ages ago."
At least for now, Porsche Surface Coated Brakes are standard solely on the automaker's Cayenne Turbo, the automotive magazine reported. It can be included on a select number of other Cayennes, but for an additional $3,500, or thereabouts. That includes the Cayenne S, which is a non-hybrid.
Improves stoppage time
In terms of actual performance, as opposed to strictly the reduction in brake dust production, the models that Car and Driver tested passed with flying colors. Indeed, on the PSCB-equipped Cayenne, the model went from a cruising speed of 70 miles per hour down to zero in approximately 152 feet. That was roughly 3 feet shorter than the Cayenne featuring standard
iron brakes. When traveling at 100 mph and jamming on the brakes, stoppage time rose slightly to 160 feet, still considerably shorter than its non-PSCB contemporary.
"The professionals who test drove the model noted that the PSCBs provided no significant advantage in terms of resilience to fade."
One area of performance that could use some refinement, according to Car and Driver, was in the fade resistance category. The professionals who test drove the model noted that the PSCBs provided no significant advantage in terms of resilience to fade when comparing the Cayenne with iron brakes and the model with the state-of-the-art braking technology. In the former case, stops measured approximately 10 feet and 12 feet for the latter.
But perhaps the best benefactor of less brake dust is the planet's well-being. As scientists from the Medical Research Council and UK Research and Innovation discovered, brake dust is the source of roughly 20% of total fine particulate matter in traffic-related air pollution. This compares to 7.5% deriving from tailpipe exhaust.
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