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Journal Article

Piston Ring Tribological Challenges on the Next Generation of Flex-fuel Engines

With the current use of bio-renewable fuel, the application of Ethanol in Flex-Fuel vehicles presents a very low CO2 emission alternative when the complete cycle, from plantation, fuel production, till vehicle use, is considered. In Brazil more than 80% of the car production is composed of Flex-Fuel vehicles. Due to the lower heating content of the Ethanol, more aggressive combustion calibrations are used to obtain the same engine power than when burning gasoline. Such Ethanol demands, associated with the continuous increase of engine specific power has lead to thermo-mechanical loads which challenges the tribology of piston rings. The ethanol use brings also some specific tribological differences not very well understood like fuel dilution in the lube oil, especially on cold start, corrosive environment etc. Under specific driving conditions, incipient failures like spalling on nitrided steel top rings have been observed.
Technical Paper

Piston Ring Pack and Cylinder Wear Modelling

Wear of piston ring and cylinder was modelled through a computer code that calculates the hydrodynamic and roughness contact pressures acting on the contact surfaces. Both pressures are fully and coupled solved through, respectively, Reynolds equation and Greenwood-Williamson model. Piston secondary motion and piston groove thermal deformations are considered. The latter was discovered to be fundamental in defining the top ring worn profile. Due to the rough contact pressures, the model predicts material removal from both piston ring and cylinder surfaces and recalculates the system, hence simulating the evolution of the worn sliding surface of both parts. The predicted wear of the piston ring pack and the cylinder wall are compared with a medium duty diesel engine tested for 750 hours in dynamometer.
Technical Paper

Nitrited Steel Piston Rings for Internal Combustion Engines

The evolution of internal combustion engines has led to friction reduction as well as to gaseous emissions reduction, demanding the use of narrower rings. Nodular cast iron is used satisfactorily for compression piston rings, with wear resistant coatings to improve their durability. However, for more severe applications and rings narrower than 1.2mm, even the nodular cast iron mechanical resistance is not enough. In this way, the use of steel is recommended, which may have its tribological properties improved by the nitriding thermochemical treatment. This paper presents the characteristics of the materials and of the nitriding process of compression and oil control rings as well as bench and dynamometric test results run during the development of these products.
Technical Paper

Nitrided Piston Ring Pack for Diesel Engines

Engine developments have led to higher mechanical and thermal loads on the components, at the same time that lower friction losses are also sought. Therefore, the development of better materials and of surface treatments has received great emphasis. This paper presents the results of dynamometric engine tests with a proposed piston ring pack, composed of a gas nitrided steel top ring, a nitrided gray cast iron second ring and a normal production chrome plated oil ring. The proposed pack showed very low wear when applied to a medium duty diesel engine, besides being a cost-effective alternative to the conventional pack with moly coated and chrome plated (respectively in the top and second) rings. The proposed pack also caused very low wear on the cylinder bore, specially near the TDC, where the bore wear is usually maximum.
Technical Paper

Liner Honing Quality Main Characteristics

The cylinder bore honing quality is an essential factor for a good engine performance and durability. A bad surface finish can result in an excessive lubricant oil consumption, high piston ring wear and scuffing occurrence. In this paper the most important characteristics of bore honing for cast iron cylinders and their influence in the combustion engine performance are described and discussed. Despite its importance, the bore honing is commonly undervalued due to various reasons including the difficulty of a practical but sufficient method of quality qualifying. Some honing commonly misunderstood concepts are detailed and SEM photographs of bore surface from both good and bad finish are presented. At the end of this paper it is also presented a recommendation for a practical evaluation method of honing quality.
Technical Paper

High Value PVD Top Ring for High Speed Diesel Engines

Due to several market demands of higher wear and scuffing resistance, Duplex PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) CrN top ring has been used in Heavy Duty Diesel (HDD) engines. The ring comprises a nitrided high chromium stainless steel with a PVD ceramic CrN coating. For High Speed Diesel (HSD) vehicles with lower demands, MAHLE has developed an alternative PVD coated ring, which balances the cost and performance ratio. This alternative, named High Value PVD (HV-PVD), consists of applying the best resistant coating for wear and scuffing, PVD, onto a less costly ring material, Ductile Cast Iron. The HV-PVD top ring has been tested in HSD engines and shown excellent performance. Additional advantages of the HV-PVD are its lower friction coefficient and better tribological compatibility with the cylinder bore materials when compared to the traditional galvanic chrome based coatings. Such features lead to reduced engine friction and lower cylinder wear.
Technical Paper

Abnormal Wear on Piston Top Groove

With the increase of thermal and mechanical loads, some spark ignition (SI) engines may present excessive wear on the piston top groove. The problem was studied first by numerical simulation. Several parameters were found to influence the groove wear. E.g., ring side face roughness and hardness. But the main influence found was the relative attitude between groove flank and ring side face. As the instantaneous attitude varies during the engine cycle, the problem was studied with a commercial ring dynamics computer program and considering thermal and mechanical deformations that occur in the piston during engine operation. The expected groove wear was estimated by the accumulated “wear load” during critical engine operation regimes. Experimental results of engines with groove wear solved by design optimization are shown.
Technical Paper

A new tribology test procedure to investigate ethanol dilution on engine oils

With the worldwide trend towards CO2 emission reduction, renewable fuels such as ethanol are gaining further importance. However, the use of ethanol as a fuel can bring some tribological impacts. Friction and wear of engine parts when lubricants are contaminated with ethanol are not very well understood. Within this scenario, the present paper introduces a new procedure to investigate the ethanol dilution on the performance of engine oils. Friction and wear of actual piston ring and liner were evaluated in a reciprocating test designed to emulate real thermomechanical conditions of both urban and highway car use. In addition to fresh oil, lubricant/ethanol emulsions were prepared carefully following two different procedures - unheated and heated mixing. The former to emulate cold start and “bakery” driving use, the latter to reproduce what happens after the engine heats in normal conditions.