Brake Cooling and Automotive Design
By: Dr. Mo Esgandari
The very fundamental functionality of conventional brake systems is based on friction, which inherently generates heat. If not managed, the high temperatures in a braking scenario can cause permanent damage to the brake disc and friction material surface in the brake pad, which itself can cause lack or loss of functionality (brake fading). So how do brakes cool down? It’s quite simple: air-flow.
On the other hand, in the modern era of automotive design, aerodynamics and drag play a major role in the car design and sometimes even overshadows the aesthetic element. Most modern cars have less ground clearance compared to their previous generations. A lot of the modern cars have a larger bumper surface that covers a greater area of front of the car. The apertures on the bumper where air can flow in the right volume and actually reach the brake systems to cool them down have become very limited, and even those apertures are not open all the time to help with the aerodynamics.
This is where accurate modeling and analysis of the airflow comes into play, to balance these conflicting attributes and deliver the best compromise. This is the game where fraction of a millimetre becomes a great deal; so, does the accuracy of the simulation and the correlation to the reality.
This is an example where speciality in brake systems alone might come short in delivering a system for the vehicle and this is where you can seek help from the industry experts whose experience is beyond one specific area and can enable you and your organisation deliver a system in a complex product.