BRAKES: Faiveley Transport is part of a consortium led by Federal-Mogul Corp which is researching the manufacture of high-performance brake discs from recycled carbon composite material.

The Rebrake programme aims to accelerate the widespread adoption of carbon composite brake discs across a range of automotive and industrial applications as well as rail. Use of composite materials offers significant savings in terms of bogie weight, maintenance cost and noise emissions, but the initial capital outlay required compared to conventional iron rotor discs has hindered mass-market acceptance so far. Producing carbon discs from manufacturing scrap should help to reduce this up-front cost.

'Potential applications are wide-ranging', believes David Holme of Federal-Mogul's Friction Technology Centre near Derby in the UK. The programme is being supported by investment from the UK government's Technology Strategy Board, whilst much of the initial research was conducted by Loughborough University. Small disc samples have already been produced to 'prove the concept', according to Holme, paving the way for dynamometer testing of full-scale prototypes for rail applications in the first half of this year. These will then be 'benchmarked against current best-in-class products', Holme explains. Federal-Mogul suggests that it would be at least two years before the first prototype is tested on a rail bogie.

The company is offering ambitious weight savings compared to steel discs - up to 260 kg. It also suggests that fewer calipers may be required, further reducing weight and potentially allowing for higher axleloads or increased running speed.