Yazaki Corp. aims to replace traditional copper wiring harnesses with units made from lightweight carbon fiber nanotubes and aluminum.
The Japanese supplier is developing the technology at its California research center. No timetable was given for when the new wiring harnesses could appear in a production vehicle.
Passenger vehicles contain 30 lbs to 60 lbs of copper. Traditional aluminum weighs less than one-third and costs one-sixth as much as copper. But it isn’t as strong, lacks the thermal performance needed for underhood wiring and offers only about 60% as much conductivity.
Adding microscopically fine strands of carbon addresses all three issues, Yazaki tells Automotive News.
In addition to wiring, Yazaki is evaluating several other potential uses for carbon nanotubes. This includes other metal-matrix composites, plus gas sensors and functional thin films.
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