Amorphous Carbon Coatings for Low Friction and Wear in Bucket Tappet Valvetrains 970004
Fuel economy is a major driver in the development of new passenger car engines. One requirement for a good fuel economy is to achieve a low level of mechanical friction. The valvetrain can contribute a substantial part to this mechanical friction, especially at low speeds where fuel economy is most important.
As a result of this, friction optimized engines often have a roller follower type valvetrain design despite its disadvantages versus bucket tappet concepts in other aspects.
This paper presents a study on modern amorphous carbon coatings at the cam / tappet interface aimed to investigate the potential for bucket tappet valvetrains to overcome the friction disadvantage. The work presented is divided into
a pin-on-disk pre-study to identify coatings with the most promising properties and
a cylinder head friction study to validate the findings in the realistic environment.
The paper demonstrates that the coatings have a substantial potential for friction and wear reduction. However, a universal recipe how to successfully apply a coating can not be given since the optimum coating strongly depends on the right balance of properties for each application. Surface hardness, coefficient of friction, oil wettability and surface topography all have to be matched to the application.