Technical ceramics and ceramic composite materials are space age materials which have promised to deliver unbelievable performance advantages in the automotive industry. While our technology is not yet advanced enough to create, say, a flying car, or a consumer level ceramic engine giving the fuel mileage of a Prius with the performance of a Ferrari, you may be interested to know that some of this technology has been trickling into usage for vehicle applications. One primary application is the Brembo carbon ceramic matrix brake disc, or CCM. It’s not just science fiction!
These brake systems have been making their way into various high end automobiles. Current offerings in sports cars include but are not limited to the Porsche GT2 and GT3, the Audi RS5 and RS6, the Bugatti Veyron, the Lamborghini Gallardo and Murcielago, all new Ferraris, the Maserati Granturismo Mc Stradale, and the Aston Marton DB9 and DBS. For Limousines there are the Volkswagen Phaeton, the Porsche Panamera, the Audi A8, the Bently Havana, and the AMG E-class. There are even a few SUVs; Porsche Cayenne and the Audi Q7 for example.
At first they were offered only on the most exclusive of vehicles but they have been trickling down into higher volume models. For example as of 2011 Audi offers them as an “optional upgrade” on certain higher performance vehicles, including the D3 S8, B7 RS4, C6 S6 and RS6, and the R8. Also they are now available for the less exclusive Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 (OE CCM) and Z06 (optional). In the future there are bound to be even more offerings as these Brembo brake system move from most exclusive, to merely sports and commercial applications. This does seem to be in their corporate strategy, as it has been mentioned in press releases in the past. They may even be available aftermarket as soon as the first half of 2012 for some specific vehicles.
WHAT IT IS?
The material which the rotors or discs of the Brembo Carbon Ceramic brakes are made out of is a special material which was created to address the problem of brittleness in previous ceramic materials. What they did in a nutshell is to add carbon fibers to the ceramic which bridges the gaps created when micro cracks form. The ceramic material is still brittle at the microscopic level, and does crack, but these tiny cracks do not form into larger cracks because of the specially treated fibers bridge which those gaps preventing them from combining and enlarging.
WHAT IT DOES?
The CCM disc improves the overall characteristics of the brake system by providing a material which is superior to cast iron in most regards for this type of usage. The advantages of Brembo carbon ceramic brakes are numerous and not just limited to providing tremendous stopping power either on the street or in extreme performance events. These benefits are listed below.
Legendary Stopping Power
Of course these brakes have legendary stopping power, or what would be the point? Let’s take the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti for example. From 160kph/100mph, all it takes is four seconds to bring this car to a halt. The driver can thank the 612’s carbon-ceramic brakes for this behavior. Technically this is because of an improved friction co-efficient over cast iron. The more powerful the car, the better the brakes ought to be. Reviews of super cars and sports cars regularly laud the stopping ability of these brake systems.
Less weight. Up to 50% lighter than cast iron.
A lighter brake disc reduces unsprung weight and rotating mass. This is the weight not suspended by the springs like the body, engine, transmission, etc. If you can imagine hanging onto the edge of a merry-go-round and as the merry-go-round spins faster, it forces you to the edge, trying to fling you off. A carbon ceramic brake rotor weighs less thus reducing this centrifugal force and thereby lessening the force applied to the suspension to which it is attached. Decreasing the weight of the disc therefore will result in improved acceleration, deceleration, and most noticeably handling. One can expect better shock absorber response, road-holding comfort, and agility due to the weight savings. This is fact because while cornering, the weight of the rotor adds inertia to the movement of the suspension which adds additional forces to the spring and the shock absorber. As the driver steers to maintain control, less weight is acting upon the suspension thereby the tire is more likely to stay in touch with the road.
As an example of weight saved, in a Porsche, the composite carbon ceramic brakes have a reduction of un-sprung weight for the rotors of 60 pounds. Handling is improved without sacrificing ride quality.
CCM Brembo brakes have great durability and a longer lifetime.
They will last the lifetime of the vehicle, if driven under normal driving conditions and not raced. For the Porsche’s carbon ceramic brakes (PCCB), there is an 80,000-mile warranty providing the car hasn’t been tracked. Actually, one can expect the Brembo carbon ceramic brakes to last well over 100,000 miles with normal driving. In racing applications, such as the Ferrari Challenge, their lifespan would be much shorter.
The CCM brakes exhibit greater durability for several reasons. The material is stable under high pressure and temperature. They don’t corrode or rust because ceramics materials don’t normally do so. They have excellent resistance to thermal shock and won’t break down when repeatedly heated over a long duration.
CCM brakes have higher resistance to fading:
Fade, as many already know, happens when brakes are heated up due to multiple applications in a short period of time thus reducing the amount of friction available. This causes glazing of the pad and rotor surface, which reduces stopping power. This means that the brakes need to be applied harder to provide the same amount of stopping ability. Brembo carbon ceramic brakes have very high friction coefficient stability. Friction is what makes a brake work. Stopping power is a function of friction. In a cast iron disc, as the temperature heats up, the amount of friction, which is created when the brake pads are applied, will be reduced. As for Brembo carbon ceramic brake discs their friction coefficient practically doesn’t change with temperature. Carbon ceramics are better in this regard, as they can be heated up to at least 700 degrees Celsius without losing their friction efficiency. This is difficult to achieve with cast iron. CCM discs will perform well in both hot and cold conditions since this friction is maintained. The consistent friction coefficient means that regardless of the driving conditions, be it braking at speed and/or during prolonged braking, the braking power is maintained allowing the driver to optimize pressure applied to the pedal. Yes they are they’re nearly impervious to heat-induced fade due to excellent friction coefficient stability.
CCMs Can Take the Heat:
These special rotors tend to heat up and to cool off faster than iron ones by virtue of the material itself. The material characteristics are truly impressive. Because this material has less than one-third of iron’s density, and only 40 percent of iron’s heat conductivity, the heat accumulation in a CCM rotor is far lower, yielding tremendous brake efficiency. Using these brakes aggressively can cause their temperature to rise as high as 1000 degrees Celsius or 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. This is comparable to hot lava. One can sometimes see glowing hot brake discs during races on cars that use this type of system showing how hard they are used. But, not to worry because they can disperse the heat before it even reaches the brake fluid. Frequent and heavy braking from high speeds is effectively achieved for longer periods. Yes, the material is known by engineers as capable of withstanding these temperatures without breaking down or degrading.
Great Performance Regardless of Weather:
One can expect higher performance in both wet and dry conditions. This is of course true for rain, sleet, snow and even on the hottest of days in the most heat prone climates. You can expect quiet, smooth, responsive driving. Because ceramic brake pads won’t absorb water in the same way as conventional linings, brake response will be the same under both wet and dry conditions. Because they also have high cold friction rates these brakes are effective through the entire temperature performance envelope.
CCM brakes produce no judder:
Because Brembo CCM brakes have fantastic dimensional stability this means the rotors maintain their shape and do not deform. Judder are the vibrations which begin in the brakes and are felt by the driver either via the brake pedal or steering. Worn suspension parts can also cause the same judder. There are two types of brake judder, or shakiness. Those two are hot (thermal) and cold judder.
Cold judder is the result of disc thickness variations, which are usually caused by extensive driving, driver imprudence, or installation error, but in rare cases can be caused by manufacturing error. Because Brembo brakes are made to an extremely high standard, it can be expected to be flawless in the surface or disc thickness. As far as wear is concerned, carbon ceramic brake discs while not immune to wear, will rarely if ever experience judder.
Hot judder is another story. This is the result of repeated braking from a high speed to a lower speed while not coming to a complete stop, allowing the brake discs to heat up. The condition is induced by hot spots or regions on either side of the brake disc which are alternatively hotter and cooler. This causes the disc to warp or to slightly distort. When the brake disc comes into contact with the brake pads, vibrations are produced. This can even become a dangerous situation. With the Brembo carbon ceramic brake discs, the heat is released so well that this condition does not apply. CCM discs are capable of operating at 1000 Celsius, as hot as molten rock, without warping. By virtue of the unique material, they will not bend or deform. Thus planar coupling with the brake pads is maintained. As a plus, because of reduced thermal deformation there is no noise during braking resulting in a more enjoyable driving experience.
Corrosion is caused by oxygen atoms binding with the brake disc material. This is classic in anything made out of iron, as iron readily binds to oxygen, and oxygen loves to bind with most anything. But the carbon ceramic material is so corrosion resistant, that you never need to worry about this. This is true even for prolonged wet conditions, or when the roads have been salted to melt ice as happens in the Chicago area after a winter storm. This is also known as rust or oxidation. This equates to a longer lifespan for the brake system.
CCM discs produce very little brake dust:
Brembo carbon ceramic brakes are known for their reduction in their emission of fine dust. This is because they wear much less. With a cast iron disc, especially with high friction brake pads, every time you apply the brakes, a tiny bit of brake dust is created. Some people worry and complain about brake dust as it settles on the wheels. The build up of brake dust on the wheels can cause unsightliness and because it is very corrosive, if allowed to linger there it will eat away at the finish. Brake dust from common brake materials contains an adhesive, and it is this acidic adhesive, which corrodes the surface of metal parts. Brembo carbon ceramic brakes contain carbon fibers and silicon carbide. Any binding agent which has been used to hold the carbon fibers together in their mould has been transformed into carbon during the manufacturing process. So in essence there is no adhesive to wear off and damage your metal parts. Also this material wears much, much less. Using iron discs if you wish to keep the appearance of your ride pristine, then you will probably consider options such as brake dust covers or brake dust repellant or simply doing the work of manually removing it from time to time. With carbon ceramic brakes, you don’t need to worry about this. You won’t need to cover up those awesome looking rotors and brake calipers with dust covers, and plus you will probably be wiping off your wheels a lot less. Show the world what your car is made of and be proud.
Brembo Carbon Ceramic Brakes have greater stopping torques:
This can be attributed to their superior mechanical strength. Torque is a measure of rotational energy and brake torque is a measure of the power of the braking system. The greater the mechanical strength of the brake disc, the greater the stopping/brake torque. The disc can withstand being grabbed and acted upon by the calipers without stressing the rotor. The reason for including carbon fibers with the ceramic is to provide mechanical strength. The mechanical strength of a brake disc hypothetically made out of ceramic alone would be too low plus it would be too brittle, prone to cracking, and even shattering. Brakes exert more torque at higher speeds so greater mechanical strength equates to greater stopping torque and thus better stopping ability.
Brembo Carbon Ceramic Brakes have high versatility:
You can use the same set of brakes for road use, as you can for track use. Let’s say you participate in club events. You could use the same brake system to drive to work and during the weekend, use the same set of brakes to track with. You don’t have to swap out one brake system with another before the event. This is because they maintain their grip under a wide temperature range as well as a wide range of driving conditions.
They have high-tech appeal:
They look impressive peaking out from your wheels. The black carbon ceramic rotor has a unique high tech look. You will find Brembo ceramic carbon brakes are equipped onto the most prestigious cars on the market. These babies scream status.
The Carbon Ceramic Brembo Brakes are more expensive for a few reasons.
– The manufacturing process, although more automated and more refined than when these types of brakes were first created, is still more labor intensive than making brakes based around cast iron rotors.
– These brakes are still not manufactured in the same volume as regular brakes so fewer of them are produced.
– The materials are more exotic, and thus fewer suppliers of raw materials exist.
– These brakes are primarily used on vehicles which demand the releasing of extra heat generated by high performance and heavy vehicles. As for now these brakes can only be found primarily on the more expensive sports cars and luxury vehicles. For these vehicles extra engineering and design work is involved. For example, ball joints and bushings must also be able to withstand the same amount of heat as the rotors themselves. Engineers have to consider cooling the entire corner of the car.
Under normal to moderately high driving conditions, they work flawlessly. People who push the limit on a regular basis may experience some degradation of the brakes. As far as racing is concerned, some racing teams have elected to switch back to cast iron as they can be replaced for far less money. So for racing, there may be better options, either up or down the scale. Either cheaper iron rotors or more expensive fully carbon rotors for better performance may be preferred.
For example the replacement costs for carbon ceramics from Porsche are around $20-25K for all four discs. GT owners have found that they can buy steel GT3 rotors all day long for $1.5-2K. This is why some race teams have elected to use cast iron discs. A ceramic disc can chip or crack because they are a little bit like pottery. Once a disc is damaged it cannot be resurfaced but must be replaced. Yes, in the heated passion of racing, a wheel may get dropped onto a rotor, or a rotor will get accidentally dropped, damaging the CCM rotor, therefore necessitating replacement.
Another disadvantage to someone driving a sports car for leisure, tracking, and/or for club days is that with CCM systems you are pretty much limited to one rotor and pad set. With iron rotors you have various rotor styles and much more numerous pad compounds to choose from.
Unfortunately, for now these super brakes are primarily available only on high-end sports cars and to race teams, while there have been strides in making them available on some muscle cars. We may, with further technological advancements be able to swap out our OEM cast iron rotors with carbon ceramic ones in the future, as material science continues to advance. For now, Brembo brake kits, with iron rotors are a great choice for those wishing to increase the performance and appeal of their rides.
While Brembo CCM systems are truly awesome, most people still will not be able to get them because of cost and availability. We are waiting for technology to progress to bring the prices down and to widen their availability. In the mean time, Brembo metallic brake systems are available for a wide variety of makes and models of automobiles, trucks and SUVs. You may peruse the full selection of Brembo brakes at any number of websites.
Want to Buy Brembo Brake Kits? make sure to check them out! 🙂