As automotive and commercial vehicle OEMs continue to drive more performance from internal combustion engine (ICE) powertrains, lightweighting every component is becoming increasingly important, however, this comes with challenges.
To increase the power and efficiency of ICE powertrains, engineers must increasingly leverage turbocharging systems while at the same time underhood space is decreasing to accommodate the overall lightweighting of the vehicle. This combination of shrinking space and increasing heat is driving the need for advanced lightweight materials that can take the heat without compromising performance.
There are two types of turbocharger systems: superchargers and turbochargers. Air-to-air cooling (direct) or liquid-to-air cooling (indirect) can be used for turbocharged systems. Liquid-to-air cooling is the latest development to integrate the charge air cooler (CAC) into the air intake manifold (AIM), using liquid instead of air to effectively cool the air.
Integrating the CAC into the AIM reduces the length of pipe previously needed to reach the air-to-air cooler in the front of the vehicle, leading to an increase in engine responsiveness. It also increases the temperature in the AIM (currently up to 230°C) and the mechanical requirements for the materials used. This enables auto makers to deliver higher performing engines while meeting emission limits.
In cases where package space, design, or cost prevent the ability to integrate the CAC into the AIM, liquid-to-air cooling can still be implemented by mounting the CAC directly onto the engine, as a standalone component and near the AIM.
Moving from air-to-air cooling to liquid-to-air cooling will impact geometry and part requirements for ducts. Manufacturers are well served to work with materials that deliver weight reduction through metal and rubber replacement, increased engine efficiency, reduced emissions and noise, and decreased system cost.
This is why DSM has partnered with its customers to develop the Diablo portfolio of blow-moldable materials capable of withstanding peak operating temperatures up to 260°C while delivering long-term performance over a broad range of more moderate temperatures. Because of their inherently high strength to weight ratio, these robust materials allow for thinner designs, which can reduce total system mass by up to 40%.