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Metal-matrix nano-composites

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Metal-matrix composites (MMCs) have suffered from a couple of problems in motorsport. The first is that there have been restrictive regulations banning such materials, either explicitly or via a limit on specific modulus (the ratio of elastic modulus to density). The second barrier to their use in those series that have not already outlawed such materials is cost – below a certain level of budget, there is simply no need for a ban as the financial constraints on competitors means they...

Power electronics for contemporary motorsport

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The new era in motorsport of energy recovery from exhaust gases, combined with regenerative braking, will hopefully make our ‘industry’ more attractive to sponsors, who worry about our less-than-exemplary environmental credentials, and to car manufacturers who in recent years have not seen the relevance of some of our engines. For purely electric drives as well as applications where electric hybrid systems are combined with an engine and exploit regenerative braking, there are...

Microprofiled bearings

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The intense competition to win, be it on the racetrack or in car dealer showrooms, is pushing the design of the internal combustion engine to even greater extremes. To save weight, engines are kept short, crankshaft journals need to be narrower and, together with the increased engine output required, engine bearings are under more stress than ever before. Increased bearing load results in higher bearing surface temperatures which, after all the analysis has been undertaken and the tests...

Valve overlap

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I can’t remember precisely when I first saw an engine camshaft or heard the word ‘overlap’, but I can only assume it must have been while I was still in short trousers. I do remember though my father taking the engine out of our car, a 1950s Ford Popular, and dismantling it on the garage floor. I’ve also never forgotten the explanation my father later gave me about the internal workings of the side valve internal combustion engine. It was much later in life that the...

Coatings for electrical insulation

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At the top levels of motorsport power unit design, the current focus seems to be on making smaller engines and improving efficiency. Simply put, we want more performance from less fuel. This is true not only for our day-to-day motoring but for Formula One and Le Mans races. Given that there is a finite amount of oil in the world and that we have no viable replacement for it yet, we need to use it more frugally. This has not been lost on the rule-makers for Formula One and Le Mans –...