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4 comments

Recycle Your Brakes?

Posted January 24, 2010 8:00 AM

There are some engineers who would design braking systems, but would never change the brakes on their own car by themselves. And then there are those who won't let anyone touch their machines. Whichever you might be, what do you think about using 'used' brakes? Recent articles detail a joint research program to develop lightweight carbon brakes from scrap material. They should save money and may reduce carbon emissions in transportation applications. Do you think brake rotors from non-virgin carbon will prove practical and economical? Would you buy 'used' brakes?

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#1

Re: Recycle Your Brakes?

01/25/2010 12:52 PM

Forget about used brakes. OEM spec brakes at AutoZone or Advance Auto are so inexpensive you'd have to be insane to install used brakes. Buy ceramic, metallic, etc. at the same sources. In this one instance forget about 'green' and opt for efficiency and braking distances.

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Power-User

Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: AlBerta in western CAnada
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#2

Re: Recycle Your Brakes?

01/25/2010 2:21 PM

Hi,

I'm not sure how this scenario will reduce 'carbon emissions' in operation, do you? The 'carbon' emissions refered to in vehicles is emitted as a gaseous CO2: Carbon Dioxide in their exhaust gases from the internal combustion engine. How would usage of carbon, recycled or otherwise in (ablative) brake linings reduce this? No way that I can see. It would result in solid carbon dust being left on our roadways. Historically brake lining have had a high asbestos content, a practice either phased out or underway in most jurisdictions. In comparison, I suppose that carbon dust would be a better alternative than asbestos dust. Would 'recycled' carbon be more cost effective than virgin carbon? Are there any significant reliable, cost effective sources of the required consistent quality of recycled carbon available? From what & where? Obviously brakes need to be very reliable and operate consistently without fear of failure or different braking rates. Both of these conditions would be disastrous and even fatal because of inconsistent quality of the carbon brake lining materials. As noted above there are other higher performance alternatives already available. Most electric hybrids utilize 'regenerative braking' that utilizes the energy needed to slow down and stop a vehicle that is normally just wasted as heat with traditional brake linings is recovered and used to generate and store electrical energy which is a 'Win - Win' situation though it needs to be noted that vehicles that use this regenerative braking method also have traditional brakes that obviously last a LOT longer as most of the energy is captured and turned into electricity rather than just wasted as heat. It should be noted that there is an alternate to traditional brakes with ablative linings proposed that utilizes roller bearings in a setup similar to 'over running clutch/brake' systems and should last along longer and have no ablative brake dust of any sort

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#3

Re: Recycle Your Brakes?

02/03/2010 10:41 PM

Carbon dust from these brakes is very inert, so when breathed in, the body can't get rid of it and can cause "miners lung". This disease is a hazard of coal mining and is prevented by rigorous dust suppression measures.

Probably not a serious problem as no one in the general public developed asbestosis from breathing in asbestos from the old brake linings. The asbestos dust was only a problem in the factories where the items were made, and was readily controlled by good dust suppression.

Not sure how this proposal makes a significant reduction in carbon footprint. Suspect that claim is simply to make the proposal more acceptable.

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Recycle Your Brakes?

02/04/2010 12:28 AM

The asbestos dust has been a serious health hazards for mechanics for quite some time now, especially for ones that primarily just did brake jobs. It was enough of a problem that the industry developed a specialized vacuum contraption to vacuum as much as possible of it up (before beginning to work on them?).

Pricey though and out of my reach, but I no longer do such work so it isn't a factor for me personally. But there are lots of others that still are.

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