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Properties and applications of titanium

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Titanium is a strange material, not least for the myths surrounding it. It is often described as being incredibly hard, or incredibly strong, when the truth is that it is neither. It can be impressively strong compared to its density, but it does not stand out in this respect. It has been very expensive, and to the man on the street it has the reputation of being out of reach. It is, however, no more expensive per unit mass than many grades of steel or aluminium. It is widely used in...

Challenges of running high-speed rotors

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The production electric car is now a reality, with a number of the big automotive manufacturers selling them and many more having parallel electric hybrids in production. Parallel hybrids are used in Formula One and are widely used in endurance racing too, courtesy of some brave changes in the regulations. In 2014, we have also seen Formula E emerge as a global race series, pure electric racecars competing on circuits around the world, with some big names involved. Electric motorcycle...

Turbocharger bearing development

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While journal bearings currently reign supreme for applications such as crankshafts, other areas of the powertrain use different types. There is a host of different applications, but those intended for use in turbochargers are some of the most interesting.   Providing a low-friction bearing capable of operating at the very high speeds a turbocharger sees – more than 150,000 rpm – and which can also survive the high temperatures experienced within a turbine housing is no easy...

Managing torsion vibration

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While much has been written about the design of camshaft profiles and how to install and time them in an engine, comparatively few details are available about the actual dynamics in the valvetrain system due to the torsional vibrations induced. Much like the engine crankshaft therefore, which can be excited by the forces of combustion and fail catastrophically when the frequency with which it is excited approaches the component’s natural frequency of vibration, the camshaft can also...

The effect of thermal barrier coatings on engine efficiencies

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Thermal barrier coatings have been big news at various times in the past, but they have never been adopted as widely as might have been expected given their supposed advantages. As the name suggests, they aim to prevent the transfer of heat. They are often used in motorsport on exhausts, and heat shields which are used to prevent damage due to the harmful effects of radiated exhaust heat. However, they were expected to become common in engines, and indeed they continue to be marketed with...