Carbon fiber. Stronger than steel. Beauty and function. Colorless rayon or polyacrylonite fibers are pulled over hundreds of reels 200m long and baked at temperatures as high as 1,400 Celsius (2,550 Fahrenheit). Only carbon atoms remain, neatly arranged and now black, 1/10th the width of human hair.
50,000 of these are bundled into a thin thread, capable of lifting a tonne of weight. The threads are woven into mats, cut and placed in molds, put in vacuum, immersed in resin and cured by heating. Within minutes, they harden to create body parts for a car, 5x stronger than steel, 2x more rigid but 60% less in weight. That alone could reduce a car’s fuel consumption by 30 percent and cut greenhouse gas and other emissions by 10 to 20 percent [source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory].
With their swoopy carbon fiber bodies, the BMW i3 city car and sportier i8 look like the auto show concepts that never get beyond auto shows. In fact, they are just two years from production.
Hat tip to Shah Auckburaully , for the inspiration.