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Carbon Revelution to debut world's first Carbon Fiber wheel at SEMA

Australian-based Carbon Revolution will debut the world’s first Carbon Fiber tire at SEMA next week, following 10 years of research and development to perfect the technology.
Posted: October 24, 2012 - 2:03PM
Author: Don Bain

The single piece carbon fiber tire has exceeded all performance requirements and industry standards, to create additional weight savings as automobile manufacturers endeavor to comply with CAFE standards.

Not only are the carbon fiber wheels 40 to 50 percent lighter than aluminum equivalents, they also exceed industry standards in laboratories and test tracks around the world, according to Jake Dingle, Chief Executive Officer for Carbon Revolution.

"Thanks to the laws of physics, the outcome is a performance step change of breathtaking magnitude," he continued. "Drivers will experience a significantly improved vehicle with an extra chunk of horsepower and a huge fuel efficiency gain – not to mention increased acceleration, braking, ride and handling, and steering improvements – thanks to the addition of carbon fiber wheels, we are making great cars better."

Carbon Revolution grew out of close collaboration with a leading academic and research institution in Australia. The independently run research and development program has evolved into a highly focused group of highly knowledgeable engineers, scientists and industrialists packed into a tightly managed innovation cell. The group has met both the design and fabrication challenges head-on.

Dingle suggests the carbon fiber composite wheel combines aerospace manufacturing processes with the efficient control of high volume automotive production, resulting in a world-class approach to quality and process control.

"We are moving the needle well beyond great style – our testing and validation is coordinated out of our German office and completed to the strictest standards utilizing the toughest race tracks, automotive proving grounds and certified testing labs in the world,” said Dingle.

The Carbon Revolution team includes senior manufacturing executives from suppliers including Bosch, converts from Boeing's renowned Phantom Works innovation cell, industrial composite manufacturing specialists and numerous PhDs with world leading materials and structures knowledge.

Fully aware of the serious potential of this venture and the magnitude of the opportunity, the Australian Government stands behind the team with significant assistance to commercialize the technology from its $5.4 billion New Car Plan.

Technology Behind Carbon Revolution

Brett Gass, Engineering Director and a founding member of Carbon Revolution, has been intimately involved in the technology’s development since its inception. Over the past decade the team has developed a method for creating one-piece carbon fiber wheels using a product development curve similar to NASA and the Department of Defense.

"Our approach not only requires attention to detail, thorough testing and a strong focus on product quality and safety," said Gass, "but by combining design and product validation techniques that are similar to the aerospace industry, we've found that we can go well beyond our own industry requirements."

According to Gass, carbon fiber wheels are the next major evolution in automotive wheel development.

"Creating a composite wheel that is made entirely in one piece from continuous fibers is particularly challenging given the significant geometric complexities," he said. "We have successfully developed an architecture that optimizes the outstanding properties of continuous carbon fibers through the complex range of operational loads that are seen on a vehicle."

The benefits of carbon fiber are its relative strength, lightweight and rigidity. Carbon Revolution's single piece wheel architecture is produced using a patented manufacturing process that optimizes the remarkable properties of carbon fiber.

"Our advanced approach to engineering and working with a series of academic and industry partners to assist with all elements of product development, have led to the successful release of the CR-9," continued Gass. "The Carbon Revolution Product development team is hard at work developing the next generation of industry leading wheel technology for both the world's next generation super cars and high efficiency vehicles."

The testing focus hones in on wheel bolt retention, rough road durability and limit handling and has been put into trial on the major tracks of Europe. Carbon Revolution has also established a quality control process encompassing OEM and Certification Body requirements including SAE 2530, TUV German Aftermarket, and German OEM AK-LH 08. Continuous test plans are still in progress at the Dudenhofen Proving Grounds near Frankfurt, Germany.

Efficiency Benefits of Carbon Revolution
A major technical study by Carbon Revolution, documented as a White Paper, was created to quantify the benefits of reducing rotating, unsprung mass on a production vehicle, titled Lifecycle Energy Analysis for Lightweight Composite Automotive Wheels, by Dr. Matthew Dingle and Brett Gass. Carbon Revolution’s January 2011 results were also verified by independent experts.

They found the direct application of Carbon Revolution's wheels to current vehicles produces an efficiency benefit of approximately 2 to 4 percent, adding up a significant cost saving over the life of the car, thereby reducing emissions.

In addition to efficiency gains related to mass and inertia, aerodynamic wheel designs improve vehicle efficiency as much as 5 percent. An aerodynamic design is achieved with thin sections in addition to the core structural components of a wheel.

Recognizing the efficiency benefits of this technology, the Australian Government awarded Carbon Revolution a major grant to commercialize this technology under the Green Car Innovation Fund, which aids in commercialization of Australian technologies significantly reducing the fuel consumption and/or greenhouse gas emissions of passenger vehicles.


"Throughout our ongoing research and testing, we've found a way to create a continuous fiber structure," said Gass. "With the potential for up to 50 percent weight savings compared to conventional wheel technology, our wheels are a significant ride and handling technology. Unlike typical chassis modifications that may improve handling but degrade NVH, CR wheels offer no down side, we simultaneously improve vehicle performance in acceleration, braking, steering and handling while reducing noise and vibration."

Each wheel is put through rigorous checking and a full X-Ray CT scan before being coated with an Aerospace coating system, resulting in a high grade automotive surface finish. To further ensure the part's aesthetic performance will match its structural performance, and the coating is resistant to UV and water damage.

The wheels are being produced in sizes 19x8.5 (15.4lb) & 19x12 (17.9lb), designed to mount directly on Porsche 911's. They are compatible with factory tire pressure monitoring systems, accept factory center caps and come complete with all required installation hardware.

A broader range of sizes is now being developed for the CR9 style and will be available over the coming months. All wheels will be manufactured in Carbon Revolution's Australian based production facility.

In addition, Carbon Revolution will be offering 19"x 8.5" & 19"x 12" CR-9 wheels by the end of 2012 for use on the Porsche 911, Lamborghini Gallardo and Audi R8.

Porsche centre-lock fitments are currently being developed and validated through the company's extensive testing process. New sizes and compatibility to various vehicles will be coming from Carbon Revolution next year.