Light bundles of power
Engine blocks, oil pans, bearing covers ... automotive manufacturers are relying ever more on aluminium as a base material for trendsetting engine concepts. Because engines in aluminium are light and help decisively in reducing total vehicle weight and thus fuel consumption and emissions. And with optimized manufacturing processes, aluminium alloys are also achieving the strengths needed for modern powertrains. Optimized manufacturing processes like those at Martinrea Honsel.
The fact that components in aluminium are light is already in itself a good reason to rely more on aluminium alloys as a material. But with the right process management, the aluminium alloys available today are also achieving especially good values in mechanical strength, which makes them the ideal material for innovative engine concepts. Because to comply with the emissions limits required, engines need to be smaller but at the same time increasingly powerful while nonetheless light.
The keyword is “downsizing”. This is creating smaller engines with fewer cylinders; three instead of four, four instead of six, six instead of eight cylinders and so forth. But because less engine displacement means less engine power, downsized engines are being supercharged. The result is small bundles of power that achieve a much higher power density, so more power with lower displacement. And that places more demands on the engine material. Because more torque also means more power that has to be absorbed by the bearings for example.
We at Martinrea Honsel have already been able to successfully demonstrate that aluminium can withstand the high thermo-mechanical loads. With optimized processes, we produce engine components in aluminium that display especially fine microstructures. Even with strongly differing cross-sections and the thinnest of wall thicknesses of up to 2.5 mm. For engines to be used in small cars, in precisely the same way as for sports cars with several hundred kW.