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Lighter and more resistant sports and Formula 3 cars are proof that composite materials are a bet for the future

06 September 2022
Dallara, a company that develops and manufactures sports and competition cars, is testing the use of high-performance composite materials in the manufacture of front wings for Formula 3 cars and other components for sports cars. An advance that became possible with the contribution of INEGI, within the scope of the European Smartfan project.

Part of the objective of this project was to prove the possibility of improving the properties of composite materials with the use of nanomaterials. "And yes, it is possible." Andreia Araújo, technical manager for the project, says that "we managed to increase the breakdown voltage by 50% with the addition of only 0.07% by weight of graphene, and the transition from an insulating material to a semiconductor”.

It also proved possible to produce composite materials reinforced with carbon fiber with greater resistance to delamination. The tests revealed an improvement of up to 100% greater than the reference material, along with an increase in transverse electrical conductivity.

A success that proves the "feasibility of replacing important automotive components, typically produced in metal, with composite materials. This translates into better vehicle performance - weight reduction, reduced fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions - as well as increased safety - greater ability to absorb energy in the event of an impact”, explains Andreia Araújo.

On the other hand, the increase in transverse electrical conductivity made it possible to take an important step in the development of front wings of Formula 3 cars with self-sensing capability, enabling the early detection of damage and replacement of this component before rupture.

Raquel Santos, responsible for the project at INEGI, adds that "these results are proof that the use of composites to produce safer and lighter cars is closer to being a reality”.

The Smartfan project - Smart by Design and Intelligent by Architecture for turbine blade fan and structural components systems was funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program (grant agreement n. 760779).

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