"Advanced Ceramic-Metallic Composites for Lightweight Vehicle Braking Systems"

As stated in the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) Strategic Research Plan:  "Researching technologies to reduce vehicle weight can also lead to important reductions in fuel consumption and emissions. The power required to accelerate a bus and overcome rolling resistance is directly proportional to vehicle weight. Composite materials are one example of an FTA research area aimed at reducing vehicle weights."  One way to reduce vehicle weight is through the development of lightweight components for advanced braking systems.  Gray cast iron has been the material of choice in braking systems (such as in brake rotors and drums) because it is inexpensive and a large supply chain infrastructure is in place for engineering and manufacturing gray cast iron components.  However, gray cast iron is a relatively heavy material.  Utilizing lighter weight materials in braking systems would not only achieve better fuel economy by reducing the vehicle's static weight but, since brake rotors and drums are rotating components, there would be a large multiplying effect on reducing the amount of energy required to increase their rotational speed as the vehicle accelerates.  Finally, as the braking system is an unsprung weight, a lighter system would significantly improve vehicle handling performance and safety. In spite of obvious benefits to lightweight materials, there are significant technical and commercial challenges to overcome.  Most lightweight materials do not have the physical, thermal, and tribological performance characteristics required for brake applications, such as a high strength and high thermal conductivity at elevated temperatures.  Lightweight alternatives to gray cast iron that currently do exist are prohibitively expensive for general use in most vehicles.  The TCON materials produced by Fireline TCON, Inc. (FTi) are a class of interpenetrating phase composites (IPCs) produced by a unique reactive metal penetration (RMP) process.  TCON materials contain continuous, microscopic networks of ceramic and metallic phases that are co-continuous and strongly bonded together.  This unique material structure is substantially different from traditional metal matrix and ceramic matrix composites, therefore TCON materials exhibit mechanical, physical and thermal properties that are quite distinctive.  Through process variations, the properties of TCON composites can be tailored to meet the requirements of specific applications.  TCON materials can be net-shaped or near-net shaped in a wide variety of useful forms and sizes, making the process relatively low cost.  Initial research on next-generation materials for brake rotors has already evaluated composites similar to TCON materials (i.e., IPCs produced via RMP).  The preliminary results were very promising, showing that these IPCs exhibited friction and wear properties similar to cast iron, but with half the weight and better thermal conductivity.In collaboration between FTi and Youngstown State University, the first year of this project will research how current and new TCON composite materials may be utilized in lightweight vehicle brake systems, and lay the foundation for the development and evaluation of prototype TCON brake components.  It is expected that the successful completion of this project will lead to further commercialization of TCON brake components.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Contract Numbers:



  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Fireline TCON, Incorporated

    300 Andrews Avenue
    Youngstown, OH  United States  44505

    Youngstown State University Center for Transportation and Materials Engineering

    Youngstown State University
    One University Plaza
    Youngstown, OH  United States  44555
  • Project Managers:

    Esenwein, Joann

    Hirtzel, Cynthia

  • Performing Organizations:

    Youngstown State University, Ohio

    Center for Transportation & Materials Engineering
    One University Plaza, Moser Hall
    Youngstown, OH  United States  44555
  • Principal Investigators:

    Wallace, Darrell

    Zeller, Matthias

    Wagner, Timothy

    Hetzel, Brian

    Peters, Mark

  • Start Date: 20080515
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20120730
  • Source Data: RiP Project 17364

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01468441
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Youngstown State University Center for Transportation and Materials Engineering
  • Contract Numbers: CTME-1, DTRT06-G-0041
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 3:51PM