Brake Pad Waste Collection Systems: Innovating Greener Brakes

Brake Pad Waste Collection Systems

LOS ANGELES, Calif.–California can be a thorn in the side of the auto industry–stringent emissions regulations that are tougher than those at the federal level. But one area that California is leading on doesn’t have much opposition, and that is the reduction of toxic runoff from the land into the waterways.

That’s where brake dust comes in to the environmental debate. According to credible university and state-sponsored studies, up to 5 million gallons of daily inland urban runoff flooding Aliso Creek–just one creek in California often cited–transports dog poop, roadway oil and brake dust, herbicides and pesticides, plus recycled water that contains everything in our urine including pharmaceuticals, microbeads in our toothpaste and cosmetics, and latent viruses to Aliso Beach.

Now multiply that problem up and down the California coast. No wonder California is the sharp end of the stick when it comes to chasing all those industries to clean up their act, and products.

That’s where California-based Brake Pad Waste Collection Systems comes in–just one of the companies in the industry that has sprung up with patented approaches to substantially reducing brake dust pollution, with its toxic metals, from all vehicles, ranging from motorcycles to the family car to heavy trucks.

These are the aims of the company:

  • -Commercializing the world’s first practical and proven friction material wear debris collection system, the Clean Brake Performance Module or CBPModule developed by Brake Pad Waste Collection Systems, Inc. (BPWCSI).
  • Equipping the CBPModule as standard equipment on all forms of vehicles to eliminate brake dust pollution from our Global Environment.
  • Millions of vehicles globally emit brake dust/debris constantly into the atmosphere when brakes are used to stop a vehicle. Some ingredients in the friction materials (disc brake pads and drum segments) are toxic to organisms in water systems.

Clean Brake Performance Inc. is innovating right into the growing interest by states, not just California any longer, to regulate the pollution problem from brakes.

In 2010, Washington and California States passed the Better Brakes Law, which restricts the use of several heavy metals and asbestos, creates manufacturer- reporting requirements and provides for a phase out of copper over the next 15-20 years. The legislation controlling raw material content has been effective in decreasing the level of these pollutants but only from passenger cars.

Brake debris from heavy duty or commercial trucks is not included in the current legislation, but those companies are interested in the systems nonetheless, anticipating they will be included eventually.

In all cases, controlling only a limited portion of the friction material contents does not prevent the pollution of our environment from debris formed from the braking process.  Says company President Joe Gelb: “Since the Better Brakes Law was completed and especially over the last several years, human health has become the focus of intensive international research and is increasingly becoming public knowledge. “

Recently Volkswagen was the first OEM to announce its intention to develop a dust collection system for automobiles as early as 2021. Presently the only intermediate solution to the problem is to reformulate the friction materials.  The reformulated brake pads are only compatible with a limited number of vehicles and are only approved for a few OE applications and aftermarket use. Two Types of CBPModules are Available for Further Development

Passive System Is designed to take advantage of the air currents generated by a vented rotor. The module which holds the filters has no moving parts. Initial dynamometer testing showed that with the CBPModule installed over 92% of brake pad wear debris was collected and the operating temperature on the outer pad was reduced 82% of the time.  Use of the module resulted in an average improvement in the friction material life of 17% and a 2% improvement on the rotor life. These improvement values represent less than 20% of the total pad and rotor life. The Modules fit any existing brake assembly without interfering with the OEM integrity of the system. Ongoing testing continues with the development of the CBPModule on specific brake applications.

Active System Positive air flow is generated using a suction vacuum pump activated when brakes are applied to dislodge and vacuum the brake dust and rotor debris and guide particles into an enclosed canister filtering system. The latest generation CBPModule filtration system utilizes a commercialized patented and UL (Underwriters Laboratories) tested HEPA approved filter certified to collect particles down to 0.2 microns. The enclosed canister containing the filter is easily replaced and provides a healthier environment for the maintenance technician. Pulling cooler air across brake components aids in cooling the brake. The most recent Link dyno-tested prototype captured 96.8% of the brake debris while lowering the rotor temperature an average of 3 degrees C or 37 degrees F per snub. In order to protect the filtering system, the motor vacuum is deactivated in adverse weather conditions. A CBP warning light on the dashboard Indicates when the filter needs changing at normal recommended service schedules. Both active and passive systems designed by BPWCSI can be retrofitted to any braking system without interfering with the braking process since the modules are mounted at the caliper mounting points. No part of the modules comes in contact with the pads or rotor surface and there aren’t any moving parts. CBPModular systems can be designed to collect wear debris on both disc and drum brakes without modifying existing brake configurations. Future development will include BPWCSI’s patented expanded filter technology for active systems.

Benefits of the CBPModule

Captures at the source the toxic substances of concern and nuisance dust that contaminates the environment.

  • Mounts at the caliper mounting points.
  • No moving parts and modification of homologated brake parts isn’t necessary.
  • Collects debris during any braking event without any interference with the braking process.
  • Adaptable to any vehicle, disc or drum and rail applications using friction brakes.
  • Offers a research tool for friction material manufacturers to examine friction couple interactions to assure that the replacement product is not harmful to the environment.
  • Offers qualitative and quantitative option to identify actual uncontaminated wear debris constituents.
  • Captures wear debris without contamination for debris analysis, recycling or discarding appropriately.
  • Captures wear debris in enclosed canisters for easy replacement during regular maintenance intervals. CBP warning light on the dashboard signals when replacement is necessary.
  • Offers a potential alternative to replace the current manufacturers reporting requirement for heavy metals since debris is no longer distributed into the environment.
  • Limiting brake debris pollution of the environment may decrease potential liability in the future resulting in decreased warranty costs.
  • Decreases the cost of storm water remediation by preventing initial water contamination,
  • Reduces the need to use acidic or other harsh chemicals to clean and maintain vehicle wheels.
  • Has potential to create new green support industries.
  • Offers option of recycling both wear debris and unused friction materials. The latter are currently added to landfills.
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.