Research Project Information

Research Project Summary Information

Ceramic Brakes(ST7639-1)

Starfire Systems, Inc.


Ceramic composite brakes, based on Starfire’s unique polymer ceramic processing technology, holds promise for increasing fuel economy (via much lower rotating weight), and decreasing maintenance cost of brakes in a variety of vehicle applications. A project is underway for the design, prototype fabrication, dyno testing, and on-road demonstration of Starfire’s ceramic brakes on a Chevy Tahoe SUV, and further extension to city bus applications. Preliminary dynamometer test results gathered through the existing NYSERDA project at NYSDEC have indicated the potential of a 3-4% fuel economy improvement in city driving. Braking performance has been promising, but additional optimization is ongoing to address stopping distance performance for the Tahoe design and pad wear for the bus application. While the light truck and bus markets appear viable, the earliest path to market adoption is the high-end, performance auto market. Starfire has already begun successfully commercializing its brakes for the performance motorcycle market, and sees the high-end performance auto market as the quickest path to early commercialization.

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Project Description

Following the establishment of a detailed set of functional requirements for a test vehicle that will be used as the technology development and test bed, the vehicle will be acquired, modified, and instrumented for subsequent testing. The test program will be divided into four main initiatives. The first will concentrate on chassis dynamometer testing of the vehicle with brake and suspension system modifications necessary to accommodate ceramic brakes. These tests will confirm the fundamental operability, performance and safety of the modifications prior to road testing. The second will be comprised of a multi-month series of light duty vehicle road testing. This series of tests will verify the anticipated performance improvements achievable through use of ceramic braking technology. The third will demonstrate the technology on one or more transit bus vehicles. The fourth phase will be conducted on a selected high-value, high performance passenger vehicle and will have dual goals: 1) to develop a low cost ceramic rotor as a replacement for existing ceramic rotors and 2) to develop a friction pad for Starfire’s current ceramic rotor material that provides adequate high speed cold friction and wear performance.


Fuel savings from ceramic brake development and deployment are estimated at 1.5 million gal of fuel for every 100,000 equipped vehicles. The availability of a NYS based vehicle test bed will spur NYS economic development in the advanced automotive component technology area.

Project Results

The multiphase project was completed and acceptable Final Reports prepared for each phase, but the Contractor ultimately decided not to pursue the automotive brake market, and concurrently scaled back its overall business operations due to financial conditions.


Starfire Systems, Inc.
100 Saratoga Village Boulevard, Suite 20
Malta, NY 12020

Principle Investigator

Guillermo Borges

Universities Involved


Project Type:

Product Development

Technologies Types:


NYSERDA Contact Information

Frank Ralbovsky


R&D -Transport & Power Systems

Contract Details

Start Date: 1/11/2010
Project Status: Active
Contract Number: ST7639-1

Last Updated: 12/16/2013