Starfire Systems have begun work on a two year project to develop ceramic brake materials for sports utility vehicles and light trucks. The project received $150,000 of funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
They intend to bring the technology which has only been the realm of high performance race cars, motor bikes and exotic cars into more affordable vehicles.
The main advantage of the ceramic brake systems is the 75% weight advantage they have over conventional metallic brakes. This in turn leads to improved fuel consumption of up to 20% on a city cycle, as well as improved stopping and handling. They are also capable of working at higher temperatures, reducing the likelihood of brake fade, the reduction in braking power due to overheating of the brake materials.
As an example, Starfire have produced a 13 inch brake disc based on silicon carbide, an extremely hard and refractory ceramic. It weighs in at 6.5lbs, compared to a conventional steel component which weighs 21.5lbs.
The ceramic components will be tested on a 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe, where they will be tested on a stationary dynamometer and on the open road.
For more information on materials used brake components, click here.