Engine block developed to use plasma coatings

3rd November 2016
Anna Flockett


Grainger & Worrall (GW) is working in conjunction with Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) to develop a new type of cylinder block that uses plasma coatings to reduce the weight and size of engines.

Identified by the Automotive Council as a key strategic aim for UK vehicle manufacturers, downsizing and light weighting are two challenges that are being addressed by GW’s work as part of the ALIVE6 consortium. Comprising Bosch (UK), UPA and Automotive Insulations, the group has demonstrated the inherent value of horizontal innovation – with partners from different disciplines sharing expertise and knowledge.

As part of the project, GW has developed the manufacturing process of an all-aluminium cylinder block onto which a low-friction, plasma metal coating can be reliably sprayed. This innovation removes the requirement of cylinder liners, which are replaced with the application of a plasma coating directly onto the parent cylinder bores.

Edward Grainger, Managing Director (prototype) at GW, said: “We have worked closely as part of the ALIVE6 team to develop a casting process and associated supply chain to support this leading-edge technology. Developing and manufacturing a cylinder block casting suitable for the plasma technology has required us to fundamentally re-assess the metallurgical properties of castings. This has involved us exploring elements such the structural strength of the cylinders as well as the porosity and adhesive properties of the alloys to deliver a successful project outcome.”

Commenting on the benefits of contributing to projects such as ALIVE6, Grainger, added: “The consortium has been an enabler to usinunderstanding how to design, develop and manufacture castings for the plasma spray process. Our involvement has created know-how and developeda supply chain to deliver cylinder castings suitable for this exciting new technology.”

Grainger continued: “This project has been valuable for the business, providing us with a significant leap forward in our understanding of new casting methodologies. Such experience fits well with our high-performance vehicle customers’ strategies, creating potential for us to apply such knowledge to other projects.”

He concluded: “The plasma coating process fits perfectly with our vertically integrated manufacturing capability, which comprises CAD design, casting, machining, plasma coating, honing and final assembly.”

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