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Case studies / Friction
Different strategies to remove copper from existing formulations
What started many years ago in the political corridors in the US, has risen as a priority project for almost all material development laboratories across the globe

Being automotive such a globalized industry, a concern that has sprung up on a specific market, can quickly become into a worldwide trend if it is properly justified by a greater good.

A clear example of it can be seen on the friction industry. What started many years ago in Washington and California, when copper considered as main cause for the extinction of salmon and rainbow trout, due to its neurotoxic behaviour in fish , has become into a priority project for almost all material development laboratories across the globe. Nevertheless, even there are still some grey areas to clarify, it is clear that the main brake system & vehicle manufacturers are already requiring copper-free formulations

Friction industry is going on this lead but that’s not an easy job, as not a single solution has emerged as direct replacement for this material with unique properties. Engineers and friction material formulators must come up with new strategies to replace this non-ferrous metal if they want to stay on the run.

In our experience, there are different strategies to address this challenge, involving different materials depending on the scenario

To begin with, for those companies using this metal on its pure form, they can start by reducing the %Cu of it, as 5% Cu will be allowed until 2025. We will address this case more deeply on an incoming case study. 

Other companies, however, are using already a very small amount of copper on the overall of their formulations. Either because they are using a brass instead of copper or because the %Cu by itself is very low.

In this case, our certified EN GJL 250 cast iron chips, better known as ecoCast, can become an alternative material to brass for those partners willing to remove any copper-containing product from their formulation, thanks to their overall properties.

These chips are able to provide heat conductivity and damping properties thanks to the graphite flakes segregated from the matrix, which turns this material into a self-lubricated chip that can provide a wear reduction

We are glad that so many companies have been able to develop their own Copper-free materials by using rimsa’s enviroLube as their key additive. Why so?

Finally, other companies have opted to create new copper-free formulations either by reformulating an existing copper-containing mix or creating a new one.

The key point to achieve a balanced formulation goes through being able to create a stable transfer layer while protecting phenolic resin from degradation in order to protect the integrity of the whole friction material.

The high heat dissipation capacity of copper combined with its ability to create primary plateaus makes impossible to find a direct replacement. So, if there is not a harmonized solution, there’s at least a successful strategy to address this challenge?

EnviroLube differential chemical behaviour has been proved effective to provide optimal performance, even replacing copper in existing formulations. Now is being used in Cu-free OE, OES and AM applications all around the globe. Depending on the grade, our customers will find the right choice for their application

It is a family of high-performance additives that contain low melting point phases, which undergo an endothermic reaction. It provides cooling capacity, helping not only to increase heat removal capacity, but also to reduce the working temperature, considered a key parameter to be aware of either on NAO as well as aluminium-based formulations

Moreover, due to its particular composition, it releases in a controlled manner tin sulfide in the working surface, which is generated in-situ on the working surface of the friction material, helping on the high temperature sections to maintain good performance

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