The Chemistry of Brake Pads


A brake pad is a pad that allows you to stop a car by causing friction to the rotors. The first brake was invented in 1902 for a 12hp Lanchester motor car that was made in 1903. I chose my project on brake pads because I wanted to learn how brake pads worked and what components they had in them. It is very interesting on how they work and how the combined elements in the pads are formed to produce the friction and pressure to the rotors in order for a car to stop. My everyday life is affected by brake pads. I love being around cars and getting to know everything about them. They allow me to go up to high speeds (the speed limit) and allow me to brake in emergency situations.

Composition of ...

Brake pads are made out of a steel plates that are bound with the materials like iron oxide, graphite, and fiberglass on the surface of the steel, facing the rotors.

    • Fiber glass- material in pad (SiO2)
    • Nickel-material in pad (Ni)
    • Iron- material in pad (Fe)
    • Graphite- material in pad (C)
  • Lead Sulfide- stabilizes friction with temperature (PbS)

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

Lead Sulfide- PbS

    • How- It is made by the heating of decomposition and toxic compounds.
    • What- It’s used to stabilize the friction with temperature when the brake and rotor hit each other.
    • When- First brake pad was made in 1902.
    • Why- It is used to absorb temperatures during friction.

Fiber Glass-SiO2

    • How- It is made by glass fibers and yarns.
    • What- Used to last high temperatures.
    • When- occurs when pad heats up against rotor.
    • Why- lasts up to high temperatures. It helps maintain quality of brake pads.

Chemistry's Role

Some of the components that make up metallic brakes are iron sulfide, nickel, graphite, steel and fiberglass. These elements are naturally occurring within the periodic table. They can be created in a lab and created by man. They create them by carbon and manganese for iron (C+Mg), steel is made up of nickel, nitrogen, molybdenum, and chromium (Ni+N+Cr+Mo). Nickel is pure nickel (Ni), graphite is made of carbon (C) and Fiberglass is (SiO2). Chemistry plays a role in creating the brake pads because the elements are formed together in order for them to be able to make the chemical reaction in the specific time for a car to stop. The different compounds form a reaction with the pad from the friction of the pads to the rotors. For example the fiberglass is used to handle high temperatures of the pads heating up. Lead sulfide allows the friction to stabilize when dealing with the temperature differences.

Background Research

Each compound is mixed with each other and weighed to a specific amount. The elements are molded together into a pre fold pad then pressed with a machine. After they press the compounds together they bake them in order for the friction material to form. They test every procedure after they do the steps in making the brakes. The slots in the brake pad allow a bigger source of heat expansion. The organic materials are ran through inspection and then shipped for sailment.


How brake pads work and its energies it releases.

What metallic brakes are typically made of.

Common materials in brake pads. Difference in kinds of brake pads.

How fiberglass can be made.

Why the fiberglass is in brake pads.

About the Author

Dylan Veis is a student at Billings Senior High School. Dylan wrestles and plays soccer for the Senior High Broncs. Dylan plans on being a state champion his senior year in wrestling. Dylan plans to go to college to be either a diesel mechanic, or a doctor. Dylan has a twin brother named Brennon that also goes to Senior High.