I recently learned the basics of automotive clutches, more specifically friction clutches. Here is a simplified version of their operation explained to me (the car starts at rest): The engine and the transmission are connected via friction plates. When the clutch is pressed down, the plates are separated. When to clutch is released slowly, the plates press harder together and the friction between them causes the car, via transmission, to gain speed.
But what confuses me is this: The car weights many tonnes, and the engine spin very fast. When the plates are coming into contact with each other, they are slipping until the car begins to move. Isn't this causing a huge amount of heat to be produced? And most of all, how are the friction plates manufactured so that they don't "smoothen out" very quickly, reducing the friction coefficient between them? I understand that they do wear out and need to be replaced sometimes, but considering the high torque and speed of the engine, you would think they'd wear extremely quickly.
Also, isn't the force needed to press the plates together enormous? Considering the large mass of the car, how kind of mechanism is used inside to car the press the plates together? And how can a person then, using only one foot, be able to again separate these plates? I assume the clutch pedal is connected to some kind of hydraulic system to amplify the force?
I've Googled a lot and watched several Youtube videos on the matter but they all simply show that friction holds the plates together and pressing the clutch releases them.