The following was posted by Keronite on its work to eliminate brake fading with modern components. The link to the entire post also provides a means to obtain the company’s white paper of its research on this subject.
HAVERHILL, U.K. — Successful braking is key to vehicle safety. High-performance sports cars through to heavy freight trucks all rely on a system of brake pads and rotors to control their speed. Brake fade is a reduction (or complete failure) of stopping power in a vehicle’s braking system. It usually occurs when brake pads become overheated. Automotive designers, materials scientists and engineers are working together to improve brake performance and reduce the risks associated with brake fade.
What causes brake fade?
Brake fade is not a mechanical fault. It’s a temporary loss of function in the braking system. This is characterized by a firm brake pedal but ineffective braking. The driver meets resistance when pushing the brake pedal, but little to no deceleration happens.
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A typical disc braking system is made up of a spinning cast-iron disc which rotates with the wheel. When the driver pushes the brake pedal, pressurized fluid runs through a series of lines to the brake calipers, which push a brake pad against the rotating disc. This creates high levels of friction which slows the car down. It also creates a significant amount of heat.
Brake pads are generally made from a combination of phenolic resins and filler materials that are designed to dissipate heat through the pad. The formulation of these brake pads is key to their performance, and they’re designed with a specific end use in mind. A typical passenger vehicle will use organic-ceramic brake pads which can withstand temperatures of up to 250 °C. Whereas a high-performance race car would use semi-metallic sintered brake pads which work best between 450 – 700 °C.
Brake fade occurs when the temperature of the brake pads exceeds the tolerance levels that they’re designed for. Under heavy or sustained braking conditions the brake pad becomes overheated, and the organic resin degrades to produce a variety of gases. This thin layer of gas acts as a lubricant between the brake pad and disc. The pad and disc are no longer in full contact with each other so there’s reduced friction, and limited deceleration. Overheating can also cause a permanent change in the chemical composition of the brake pad, reducing braking performance and requiring a replacement pad.
To view the entire post as well have a link to the research white paper, click HERE.