Granite Racing will begin using a new carbon fiber boat this season, this high tech engineered hull is expected to be considerably lighter than the boat they had previously run. The question is, what is carbon fiber?
Carbon fiber is a noun. A very strong, lightweight synthetic noun. Simply stated, itís a bunch of incredibly thin fibers composed of carbon atoms. How thin? Thinner than human hair. Think about that for a sec.
Itís been around since the late 1950s or early 60s Ė depending on which form youíre talking about. And itís been a pain in the butt ever since.
Without getting too technical, the first high-performance carbon fibers had low strength and stiffness properties. Translation: they werenít up to spec for pretty much anything. Technological breakthroughs in the decades to come yielded vastly superior raw materials to work with. But weíre talking about petroleum pitch, resin impregnation, parallel microscopic crystal bonding, oil refining and a bunch of other processing techniques that even our Spray & Speed Scientist Professor Michelle had a hard time pronouncing.
Simply put itís real nasty, messy, extremely difficult stuff. (see professor Michelleís latest video click here)
But hereís the intriguing thing: carbon fiber has an extremely high strength-to-weight ratio. Translation: itís badass. How badass? Its tensile strength is almost THREE TIMES that of steel.
Real strong, tough, extremely hardcore stuff.
Carbon fiber has a serious fan base, particularly concerning those folks in charge of defending our country and sending metal buckets into space. But because they continue to suck up most of the worldís carbon fiber production, there isnít much leftover for the rest of the world to play with.
Then thereís the constantly fluctuating price of oil. The complex and custom nature of most of its parts. The precise conditions and temperatures youíve got to apply to even think about molding it. And the lack of skilled craftsman to actually do it. Add it all up and right now, the price of carbon fiber is around THIRTY TIMES that of steel.
That said, carbon fiberís still a major component of new age aircraft, aerospace equipment and you got it, the new Toxic Rocket Top Fuel Drag Boat for 2009. Nobody would ever even think about trying to make a top fuel drag boat out of it. you'd have to be certifiably insane. We,re not sure what itís going to do in the water but we do know one thing for sure, itís gonna be one wild ride
See ya at the races!!