VW Develops Brake Dust Vacuum

DETROIT, Mich.–Volkswagen is the first manufacturer to start testing a brake dust collection unit. Not only will it keep brakes from polluting the highways, but it should pay dividends for the company when it comes to consumer surveys.

Cancer causing asbestos is gone from brake pads, but fine dust is still dangerous for human health. According to MANN+HUMMEL, as much as 10,000 tons of brake dust particles occur in Germany alone every year.

The system will capture “emissions” where they happen and is expected on Volkswagen models as early as 2021.

Cars are not the only source of this particulate pollution. Underground railways are also a source. Measurements that have been taken at the London subway, for example, showed people were exposed to particles in the range of 500 to 1,120 micrograms per cubic meter, over ten times more than their daily recommended level of tolerance.

The brake filters, says VW, use a special metal mesh/web, arranged in pleats to maximize the absorption surface. And, of course, the material was designed to withstand extreme temperatures. Right now, they are stopping about 80% of the particles, but the technology will be further developed with time to capture more, said VW.

When deployed, the VW system will also be available as a retrofit for older models.

Besides pollution control, J.D. Power & Associates rankings in past years has penalized German cars such as VW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz for excessive brake dust that consumers find unsightly on their wheels. This system should help VW’s scores.

David Kiley
David Kiley

David Kiley is Chief of Content for The BRAKE Report. Kiley is an award-winning business journalist and author, having covered the auto industry for USA Today, Businessweek, AOL/Huffington Post, as well as written articles for Automobile and Popular Mechanics.