Metal Matrix Composites: Lightweight Brakes
Loukus Tech owns multiple patents around MMC lightweight brake products for vehicles; including electric vehicles, motorcycles and heavy trucks.
Loukus Tech addresses the deficiencies of cast iron brakes, of stir cast MMC brakes, and of ceramic brakes. Cast iron is too heavy; stir cast MMC cannot perform at elevated temperatures, and ceramic brakes are too expensive. LT has a patented process that provides a functional reinforced gradient (FRG) which enables the placement of a higher volume loading of ceramic in one area and a lower volume loading in another. For a brake disc application, this enables high loading of ceramic on the outer perimeter where the disc is moving the fastest, generating the most heat, and a lower loading inward, which helps the disc maintain flatness and minimize fade in long braking events. See the images below of the functional reinforced gradient of ceramic in the disc, and the corresponding infrared thermal image of a spinning disc, confirming the hottest area is on the outer perimeter.
Loukus Tech has a vertically integrated manufacturing process, all in-house. The process begins with raw materials, the ceramics and the binders, to make a ceramic sponge called a “preform.” The preform is formed, dried, baked and fired and is ready to be infiltrated with molten aluminum or magnesium via the squeeze casting. Brake performance is dependent on the friction couple that is the friction material (pad or liner) applied to the brake disc or drum to create torque. With the development of a unique brake material comes the need for new friction materials. For MMCs, these are typically non-asbestos organics (NAO) based materials. LT has been working with friction material providers to test and optimize their materials for MMC brakes, for a wide variety of applications.