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NRG Wheels has produced a carbon / magnesium car wheel, to create a better driving experience based on improved handling and better impact resistance as well as reduced fuel and engine emissions.
This has been achieved by focusing on the two main components of the wheel; the hub and the rim. The forged, magnesium alloy based hub of the wheel has been designed to reduce the normal cast magnesium porosity and corrosion potential of the wheel to zero.
The other major feature influencing the wheel’s design and performance is the carbon composite wheel rim. NRG Wheels developed and produced the wheel rim with the support of Huntsman Advanced Materials who selected and provided an Araldite resin system especially adapted for Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM). The resin was also designed to achieve the challenging toughness and impact resistance criteria.
During the RTM process to produce the carbon rims, carbon fabrics are put into a mould and injected with epoxy resin. Coated titanium fasteners working within bonded bushes fasten the hub to the epoxy carbon fibre rim, so no additional auxiliary component bonding or finishing is required. Thanks to the quality of both the resin and the processing conditions, the visible outer side of the rim has an aesthetically pleasing surface finish, showing the carbon fibre pattern. The surface is protected from UV light and other environmental elements with a tough, high gloss lacquer paint finish.
The carbon/magnesium wheel is said to be 40% lighter than current aluminium or magnesium wheels. Substituting conventional materials with composites creates a direct primary weight reduction, allowing the carbon rims on the wheel to have a noticeable effect on a car’s fuel economy, reducing fuel consumption and emissions while enhancing performance and handling. When tested on a Porsche with a 380 bhp engine, Huntsman say that the carbon/magnesium wheels helped to achieve power savings of around 43 bhp, equating to an approximate fuel saving of 10%.
“”The special Araldite RTM resin was ideal for this application in meeting the high strength to weight ratios required for improved impact resistance, allowing the carbon / magnesium wheel to take over two times the impact of metal wheels,”” said Bevis Musk, Research and Development Director at NRG Wheels Ltd.
“”Thanks to the toughness offered by the Araldite resin system, the wheel demonstrates resistance up to an impressive 1600 joules. In contrast to metal wheels, cracks do not increase and the wheel reverts to its round shape while retaining great strength, rigidity and the flexibility required for both road and track. This makes the wheel safer in road impacts as the tyre retains its air and the car can be driven safely, even following a major impact.””
NRG Wheels and Huntsman recently won the Sports and Leisure category of the JEC Innovation Awards 2011 for the carbon/magnesium wheels, in recognition of the innovative use of composites in high performance vehicle applications.
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