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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...

Plasma,thermal sprayed coatings for use in electric,hybrid systems

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Whether we like it or not, hybrid systems – where we recover some of the waste energy generated when we burn fuel – are part of our future, whether this they be in our passenger cars or our racecars. Motorsport, certainly at the highest levels, has a choice as to whether it leads or follows. However, if it does neither, it will be isolated and will lose manufacturer support. I have had some involvement in motorsport hybrid systems over the past 15 years, some of it on the Panoz...

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 –...

The use of soft metallic coatings

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Much of the focus in recent years in terms of coatings used in motorsport powertrains has been on the hard low-friction coatings, such as titanium nitride, chromium nitride and diamond-like carbon. These have served to reduce friction and increase the allowable contact fatigue stress in some critical components. Metallic coatings of any description have struggled to be newsworthy though, as they are unable to come close to the new engineering coatings in terms of hardness, friction or wear...

DLC and pistons

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It is fair to say that DLC (diamond-like carbon) coatings have proven to be something of a revelation to the motor racing and wider automotive sectors. Motorsport, with its relatively big budgets per component and small production quantities, is generally able to investigate, develop and test new ideas, products and processes far more quickly and efficiently than the mainstream automotive industry, and the widespread use of DLC coatings in racing valvetrains has been transferred to the...