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Keywords of this article:  injection molding 
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Theuse of turbochargers by automakers to boost a vehicle’s torque and horsepowerin smaller engines is expected to increase rapidly over the next five years.The bar may have risen for material requirements but the plastics industry isequal to the task.

Increasingly stringnent emission is driving the use of turbocharged engines.
Increasingly stringnent emission is driving the use of turbocharged engines.
Photo: 12

Legislation aimed at lowering vehicles’ CO2 emissions is driving innovation. The global automotive industry must reduce fuel consumption and exhaust emissions, which in turn is driving an industry-wide effort to downsize engines. That has to happen without affecting the car’s performance.

Turbocharger is used to boost the power output of the engine and is driven by the exhaust from the engine.With the growth in vehicle production all around the world, the market for turbocharger is also estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.21% by value from 2015 to 2020, a MarketsandMarkets report said.

Hot environment gets hotter

Downsizing offers 20-40% fuel efficiency over naturally aspirated engines with the same horse power. Honeywell Turbo Technologies, a leader in turbocharging, estimated that there will be 49 million turbocharged vehicles sold in 2019, around 43% of total car sales in the world.

The megatrend of downsizing in engine compartment has raised charged-air temperatures to a permanent 210°C with peaks of 230°C at pressures of 3.3 bar, compared with maximum 200°C at pressures of around 1.5 bar 10 years ago.

With more and more turbocharged vehicles on the road, material suppliers is working with automakers to identify opportunities in lightweight engines while developing materials that can withstand the increased heat and pressure created by a turbocharger’s compressor.

Hot charge air ducts are common features in turbocharged engines. They transfer hot compressed air from the turbocharger or the supercharger to the intercooler.

This air is very dense and very hot, so it is passed through the intercooler, where it cools and gains even higher density before entering the engine. The presence of this compressed air makes the fuel burn more efficiently, thereby delivering greater power while consuming less energy.

The ducts obviously need to withstand very high temperatures for long periods. Material innovations mean metal components can now be replaced with plastic parts in the charge air system of the turbocharger.

Withstanding 240°C of heat
Charge-air duct made of Ultramid Endure.
BASF offers polyamides (PA) for the various temperature requirements of the charge-air duct. The range comprises PA 6, PA 66 and PA 66/6 grades with glass fiber content between 30-50%. The upper end of the temperature range is covered by Ultramid Endure.

With Ultramid Endure we have a thermoplastic that can withstand temperatures of up to 220°C and peaks of up to 240°C without degradation and it offers the automakers more design flexibility and the opportunity to easily integrate other components, like the surge valve and sensors,” explained Scott Schlicker, Powertrain Market Segment Manager at BASF’s Performance Materials group.

Possible applications include all components of the charge air system, according to the company. For example, Ultramid Endure D3G7 with 35% glass fiber reinforcement and D3G10 with 50% glass fiber reinforcement are suitable for injection molding. They are proven to work well in air intake manifolds of turbocharged diesel engines as well as in resonators and sensors.

Another grade, Ultramid Endure D5G3 BM with 15% glass fiber, which is suitable for blow molding, is being used for production of charge-air pipes.

Taking process efficiency into mind

Apart from reducing emission, car makers continue to develop the design of the charge-air duct to make the installation space more efficient.

Besides that, in order to handle movements of the engine relative to the cooler that is fixed on the chassis of the car, and because they need to be easy to install, flexibility is an important requirement.

The current standard practice is to use ducts with a central section in a rigid high temperature thermoplastic or metal and end sections in a thermosetting polyacrylate, ethylene acrylic or fluoro rubber with a woven reinforcement.

There are several disadvantages associated with this approach, particularly in relation to weight and cost. Assemblies based on these thermoset rubbers are heavy, because their relatively low mechanical performance dictates the need for thick walls to be able to handle the demands of the hot charge air duct.

In addition, total system costs of rubber-plastics or metal-rubber solutions can be quite high, for various reasons. The production process is a multi-step one: molding of the various elements, followed by assembly, which adds costs and takes extra time. It also introduces extra opportunities for defects to be introduced, both during production and in use.

To reduce the risk of failure due to creep at the joints in these assemblies, reinforcement rings are placed inside the tubes, meaning another assembly step. Also taken into account is the fact that rubber is difficult to recycle, while high energy consumption during processing leaves a question mark over its sustainability.
New high temperature resistant Arnitel TPE from DSM replaces plastics-rubber and metal-rubber combinations in hot air ducts.
DSM said its new Arnitel HT thermoplastic copolyester elastomer (TPC) eliminates all the advantages associated with plastics-rubber and metal-rubber combinations.

Arnitel HT is able to withstand continuous operating temperatures of up to 180°C and peaks of up to 190°C, an unmatched temperature resistance among thermoplastic elastomers (TPE). It also has good resistance to the sorts of oils and chemicals commonly found in a car’s engine compartment.

Most importantly, Arnitel HT’s combination of elasticity with high mechanical strength means that it can be used to produce the entire duct in a single piece, using 3D suction blow molding. Wall thicknesses can be approximately halved.

Ducts produced in Arnitel HT can withstand the internal operating pressures which are demanded by car producers, not only for models in production today but also for upcoming generations,” said Kurt Maschke, Global Segment Manager Air/Fuel at DSM.

And by using a single solution based on a material with excellent mechanical performance and a relatively low density in an optimized design, it is possible to obtain weight savings of as much as 40%.”

Combining water cooling is possible
Stanyl Diablo adopted in first high-volume, high-heat plastic AIM/CAC combination.
To improve the cooling effectiveness of turbocharged engines, DSM and German automotive supplier Mahle have jointly developed the word’s first high volume use of plastic in an air intake manifold (AIM) that integrates a water-cooled charge air cooler (CAC).

Using DSM’s PA 46, Stanyl Diablo OCD 2100, Mahle is producing an AIM/CAC combination for BMW’s B48 engine.

Liquid is a more effective mean to cool the air instead of air-to-air cooling. CAC integration also reduces the air duct length, thereby improving engine responsiveness and reducing turbo lag.

Such a design can drive the AIM’s continuous operating temperature up to 220°C, which in turn boosts the mechanical demands on the materials used in those components. This new geometry also requires materials with robust weldability and weldline aging resistance in order to maintain the part’s integrity. The Stanyl Diablo fulfilled all customer requirements,” noted Valecka, Project Manager Integrated Manifold BMW B48 at Mahle.

Stanyl Diablo OCD 2100 offers superb weld strength and ensures part integrity under pressure pulsation loads. DSM said it outperforms competitive materials in regards to thermal oxidative stability, maintaining high stiffness at elevated temperatures and pressure loads.

Wide processing windows for hollow parts
Blow molded air ducts.
Targeting the growing turbocharged engine market, German specialty chemicals company Lanxess has recently rolled out two new pseudoplastic PA for 3D suction blow molding of air ducts – the PA 66 Durethan AKV 320 Z H2.0 and the polyamide 6 Durethan BKV 320 Z H2.0.

This innovative product is our response to the growing trend toward turbocharged engines. These represent a growing share of the market because they reduce a motor vehicle’s fuel consumption and thus its CO2 emissions,” explained Thomas Olschewski, Blow Molding Applications Expert at Lanxess.

Until now, the Lanxess product range for suction blow molding encompassed a PA 66 reinforced with 25% glass fibers, two non-reinforced PA 6 compounds, and two PA 6 grades with a glass fiber content of 15% and 25%.

The two new materials each have a glass fiber content of 20%. Their high melt strength prevents an extruded preform from sagging under its own weight prior to inflation in the mold. The wide processing window ensures that the inside surfaces of charge-air tubes, for example, are extremely smooth so that the air achieves streamlined as opposed to turbulent flow.

With these new products, we are closing a gap in the range to give our customers greater latitude in terms of stiffness and strength when designing blow-molded hollow parts,” says Philipp Otte, Product Developer for Durethan blow molding products at Lanxess.

Another advantage of these compounds is their high resistance to the media typically encountered in the engine compartment, such as oils, fuel and condensates of acidic blow-by gases.

In terms of chemical resistance, our two materials are superior to thermoplastic polyester elastomers, from which parts like clean air ducts are also sometimes fabricated,” said Otte.

The heat-resistance race
Turbo resonator made of Radilon HHR.
Apart from hot air ducts, certain parts of a turbocharged engine are made of high performance plastics, such as intercooler end caps and resonators. The Italy-based RadiciGroup highlights its Radilon HHR PA 6.6 for such applications.

Offering heat resistance of up to 210°C, they are suitable for injection and blow molding with 15%, 20% and 35% glass filled versions.


A new line, RADILON XTreme, has been added to extend the company’s offering of high temperature resistance plastics for air ducts, EGR heat exchanger components and resonatros. It can withstand continuous operating temperatures of up to 230°C.

Radici looks to benefit from the stably rising North American automotive market. In 2015, more than 17.4 million light vehicles were sold in the region, beating its previous record set in 2000.

For us, the North American auto market is the number one market in terms of volume,” said Gianluigi Molteni, Marketing & Business Development Head of Radici Plastics Americas & Pacific. “In 2015, we had double-digit growth versus the previous year, and our development pipeline is strong.”

Swiss polyamide supplier EMS-Grivory has also expanded its range of high heat resistance portfolio with the introduction of Grilon TSG-W3.

This new material is able to withstand heat ageing of up to 230°C. The Grilon TS XE 16002 (TSG-35/4 W3) grade, for example, still maintains 75% of property values for tensile strength at break after 3,000 hours at 230°C. This means that its heat ageing resistance is equivalent to that of high heat stabilized polyphthalamides (PPA).

In addition, the superior surface quality reduces pressure loss in the charged air system and makes post-treatment on sealing sections unnecessary, the company said.

EMS-Grivory’s previous offerings of high heat resistance grades, Grilon TSG-W and TSG-W2, cover up to 190°C and 210°C respectively. Grilon TSG-35/4 W2, for instance, was selected by Mann+Hummel for production of selected resonators.

Elastomers on the same page
Vespel bushings from DuPont.
It is not only plastics that are gearing up for this temperature challenge. Elastomers and rubbers used for sealing, bushings and valves are constantly evolving as well.

A turbocharging system supplier has chosen DuPont Vespel bushings to improve the reliability and durability of its pneumatic wastegate actuators used in many turbocharger applications.

Wastegate actuators control the pressure of the exhaust gases entering the turbocharger on increasing engine speed, and controlling them exactly according to the particular driving situation.

The actuator is situated close to the turbine of the turbocharger where exhaust gas temperatures – which can reach as high as 1,050°C – as well as limited packaging space result in very high actuator temperatures of more than 220°C.

As the turbocharger producer reported, extensive tests had shown that alternative material solutions such as bushings made of engineering thermoplastics failed at these high temperatures.

DuPont’s Vespel SP-21 has a heat deflection temperature of 360°C, has no melting point and retains its properties under the long-term effect of heat, even in contact with aggressive exhaust gases.

Subsequent tests found that Vespel SP-21 bushings ensured that the operation of the sliding shaft remained consistent during the entire test cycle, ensuring accurate control of the turbocharger at different pressures and engine speeds.

Dreaming of an all-plastic engine

Solvay supported automotive light-weighting by participating in the Polimotor 2 all-plastic engine project led by Matti Holtzberg.

Up to 10 metal engine components – including the water pump, oil pump, water inlet/outlet, throttle body, fuel rail, cam sprockets and others – will be replaced by high performance polymers.

The engine typically is made of metal and the single heaviest part in a car. Polimotor 2 aims to develop an engine weighing 63-67kg, or about 41kg less than today’s standard production engine.

Torlon polyamide-imide (PAI) to replace conventional metal in the fabrication of cam sprocket design. In practical terms, this allows the Polimotor 2 cam sprocket to deliver comparable mechanical properties with a 75% weight reduction over a similarly sized stainless steel cam sprocket that weighs 1.1kg.

Ryton polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) for fuel rail in fuel injection system. Replacing steel with a high performance thermoplastic not only allowed the fuel rail to be injection molded as a single piece, it also enabled 25-30% reduction in part weight.

KetaSpire polyetheretherketone (PEEK) for 3D-printed fuel intake runner. Replacement of the original aluminum runner with PEEK reduced the part’s weight by 50%.

Amodel polyphthalamide (PPA) selected for the water inlet/outlet fixture due to strong hydrolytic stability, strong corrosion resistance and weight reduction benefits.

Tecnoflon PL855 fluoroelastomer (FKM) to ensure tight, reliable seal o either end of the water inlet/outet.

AvaSpire polyaryletherketone (PAEK) will form three sections of the Polimotor 2 engine’s external dry sump modular oil pump housing. Each of the three injection molded sections weighs 0.09kg compared to 0.19kg for their aluminum counterparts. 

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