Graphene has been heralded as a super material but so far no one has really used it on a car. Until now, that is, as BAC has begun testing just what it can do.
The British manufacturer is currently trialling the use of graphene on its Mono single-seater track weapon – a material that is made from sheets of carbon a mere one atom in thickness and arranged in a honeycomb-shaped lattice, making it the world’s thinnest material.
The BAC Mono features graphene-enhanced carbon fibre rear arches that were implemented with the help of Haydale Composite Solutions, which specialises in the ‘development and commercialisation of advanced polymer composite materials’.
Why is Graphene a big thing? Well, it can be just as strong as carbon fibre but with fewer fibres. In other words, you need to use less of it to achieve the same strength as carbon fibre and it takes up less space. Or you can have the same density and achieve even greater strength.
As a result, BAC estimates using graphene instead of carbon fibre on the Mono could save 20 per cent in weight. That means better fuel economy and performance.
The Mono is already a very light car with a power-to-weight ratio of 520bhp per ton – more than a Bugatti Veyron. Imagine a 20 per cent improvement on that and you can see why BAC is so interested.
Graphene was actually discovered in 2004 and developed at the University of Manchester. Scientists had known about the two-dimensional crystal material, but it took Professor Andre Geim and Professor Kostya Novoselov to extract it from graphite.
Obviously there will be cost implications initially, but graphene could make higher-end cars (where the use of an expensive material is feasible) significantly more capable and more efficient. It could, of course, prove ineffective during trials, too.
The BAC Mono made headlines when it was revealed you could buy the video game Grid 2 Special Edition and the car was included for the princely sum of £125,000. It usually costs £101,000 and is powered by a 2.3-litre Ford Cosworth engine that generates 280bhp.