Carbon fiber engine parts

I’m not sure if there’s a company that’s even attempting this, but would it be possible to use carbon fiber for engines and/or engine parts?

Not really a cost issue, as I’m sure the parts would be insanely expensive right now, just asking out of curiosity.

I hope not, we’ve had enough trouble with plastic. Golfers have been getting the graphite shaft for years. I can’t believe I tried to spell it golphers. I made three wooden weed whackers but don’t like composites. A $20 weed eater would cost $200. The carbon fiber stuff is worse than fiberglass if you get it on your hands after it breaks.

  1. CF would burn unless some truly odd resin was used.
  2. CF is strong, light…but fairly brittle. Also, when it fails, it tends to shatter and delaminate rather than stretch and deform. All bad things for engine parts.

Carbon fiber, while incredibly strong, is not very fatigue resistant. That’s important for internal engine components that have to survive billions of load cycles. Metals, while not very sexy, are.

The resins used to bond carbon fiber sheets melt easily and can be broken down by lubricants (oil) or by antifreeze. They also do not easily bond to metals like aluminum or steel–like early generations of carbon fiber bicycle frames tended to delaminate and separate the carbon components from the metal ones.

Carbon fiber, as the costs are reduced, will be used extensively on body and chassis parts. Saving weight increases fuel economy, and by using carbon fiber will not reduce the structural strength of the vehicle.

Carbon fiber is already used for minor stuff like air intakes and engine covers, but as the others have mentioned it would be unworkable as parts of the actual engine.

In addition to the comments made, carbon fibre has to be laid by hand and is extremely expensive to use. Some supercars in the million dollar cost range use it extensively for body and chassis parts, but even they don’t use it on engines. Pagani Zonda R is a nice example of extensive CF use

I wasn’t sure about heat dissipation, though one guy at work said his carbon fiber muffler doesn’t get as hot as a normal one would on his motorbike.

I do agree that CF will become the next wave of body panels once the price comes down. Though it does beg the question on if they’d need to add more crumple zones, or even take them away, due to the nature in which CF does split and break away in a wreck.

edit: what about rims? Anyone tried making CF rims yet?

The reason it probably doesn’t seem to get as hot is because carbon retains heat energy rather than transmit it. The reentry tiles on the space shuttle are made from a carbon ceramic. They can be heated to glowing hot inside and still picked up by the corners in an unprotected hand, because the heat is retaining in the tile rather than being dissipated to the fingers.

That’s why carbon makes good bar-b-que coals. It takes aome time to get them hot, but once hot the energy is released very slowly, allowing cooking time. If you heated chunks of aluminum to the same temperature they’d cool in a matter of minutes.

I was wondering about the carbon rims too. I haven’t heard of any, but perhaps it’s because carbon fiber is so subject to impact damage. Rims may not be a good application.

Another “better idea” that apparently proved to be not so great was Nissan’s plan to produce engines made from some kind of space-age ceramic.

While I can’t exactly place their announcement of this technology, my best guess is that it was about 20 years ago that Nissan issued a press release stating that they were well-along with developing this technology, and that we could all look forward to seeing it in their cars within X number of years.

Was this ceramic too heavy? Too expensive? Too fragile?
Was there some other unforeseen problem?
I don’t know the answer, but clearly we don’t yet have cars with ceramic engines.

Ceramic is extremely difficult and costly to work. Metal is easy to work and cheap.

Even carbon-ceramic brake discs for race application cost well upwards of $1000 per wheel.