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Graphene Flagship’s innovations in automotive technology accelerate green mobility  

Graphene has the potential to drive significant advancements in the automotive industry — from strengthening structural components to improving electrochemical energy storage (i.e., Batteries) efficiency and safety in electric cars as well as enhancing the performance of the self-driving car. The Graphene Flagship has orchestrated a number of projects researching the benefits of graphene in automotive applications and how vehicles can be improved. The Graphene Flagship is now seeing this research and development come to fruition.   

Ultimately, these projects feed into the United Nations (UN)’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Objectives include using graphene-enabled products to ensure good health and wellbeing, affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption as well as improvements to industry innovation and infrastructure in Europe. For the automotive sector, projects include a wide range of end applications for vehicle features and installations which has the potential to improve sustainability in the market.  

Graphene-based Automotive Applications

Steering wheel and dashboard

Standard steering wheel heating systems based on heating alloy wires allow current to flow but do not offer heat distribution support. G+BOARD Spearhead project, provides an alternative solution based on electro-thermal conductive graphene-polyurethane coatings on flexible supports for faster, more efficient, and more uniform heating at low manufacturing costs. Removing metal from the product not only decreases fuel consumption for the end user, but also improves the dismantling and recycling procedures for the wider automotive sector — a step in the right direction to meet the industry's environmental goals.  

Dashboard made from conductive graphene composite, no wires means easier to install, lighter material makes cars more fuel efficient, easier to recycle at end of life 

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Light-weight composites

The replacement of traditional materials with graphene-reinforced composites in automotive parts, such as the front-end carrier (FEC), offers weight reduction, cost savings, mechanical improvements and significant CO2 reduction. 

One example is the automotive company, BAC. Known for its lightweight technology, it has embraced the properties of graphene to enhance the structural performance of carbon fibre components in its cars. By incorporating graphene into the carbon fibre panels of BAC Mono and Mono R, the number of sheets required was reduced from three to two, resulting in a significant weight reduction — a panel that weighed 41 kilograms (KGs) went down to just 32 kilograms (KGs) after the use of graphene. 

Moreover, while BAC's innovative use of graphene showcases its commitment to lightweight technology, technological advancements like this also play a crucial role in the progress of electric vehicles (EVs), particularly in enhancing battery life and overall performance. 

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Graphene composites

Composites for a greener future 

Front End Carrier (FEC)

A decrease in the weight of automotive parts will represent a significant savings in fuel and corresponding costs and emissions over the lifetime of the vehicle. The Front End Carrier (FEC) is the structural panel which closes the engine compartment and supports the fixed components in the vehicle. Graphene obtained from pyrolyzed waste tyre is used as a reinforcing and nucleating agent to reduce glass fibre content in the serial part without any additional processing. By the integration of 1 wt% waste tyre driven graphene and the 10% reduction of long glass fibres in the FEC part, the new graphene enhanced part has the following properties: (1) weight reduction of 10.7%, (2) material price is not increased, (3) cheaper parts, (4) mechanical improvement, (5) no mould change or additional process and (6) 10% CO2 reduction. 

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Image sensors for self-driving cars

Autonomous driving is the future, but is it safe? High-intensity sunlight, fog, poor street lighting and other common low visibility conditions are some of the main challenges for the reliable deployment of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and automated driving systems (ADS).The current state-of-the-art cameras used in these vehicles rely on visible light, which means they perform poorly in low visibility.

The AUTOVISION Spearhead Project aims to develop a graphene-based image sensor for short-wave infra-red radiation (SWIR), and integrate it in a suitable camera system for self-driving cars.

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Lubricating oils with graphene keep engines safer for longer while reducing mechanical noise. They take advantage of graphene’s unique properties to reduce wear and tear in diesel and petrol engines, for both cars and motorcycles. Graphene acts as a strong lubricant due to its layered structure, which allows the atom-thin layers of carbon to easily slip and slide against each other, with hardly any friction. There are different products in the GTX-Lube range, to better respond to the particular needs of different engines. 

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Lubricants for long-living engines

Graphene-based lube

Oil pans

The hydraulic power steering in cars uses pressurized oil. Oil has a higher viscosity at low temperatures (<5°C) which may cause malfunctions if the vehicle is parked outside during winter. Currently, oil pans are made of metal, and the whole component is heated by supplying energy from the vehicle battery through Joule effect during cold weather. In order to have a lighter vehicle, metal is being replaced by thermoset composites. Standard thermoset plastics cannot be heated by Joule effect but by adding Graphene Related Materials, this feature can be unlocked, setting the stage for metal replacement materials. 


The GrEEnBat Spearhead Project aims to create a working battery module for automotive applications, using silicon-graphene composite anodes in LIBs, able to compete with the projected state-of-the-art available in 2025. 

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