Propulsion Materials for Cars and Trucks

Propulsion materials research is critical to bringing advanced high-efficiency engines to the marketplace. The use of innovative materials in specialized applications throughout the powertrain can help to improve system efficiency and reduce emissions. Applications include engines, electrical drive systems, fuel systems, thermal management systems, exhaust aftertreatment systems, and engine accessories. Some candidate materials for advanced engine and electric drive system components include

  • High-temperature alloys,
  • Intermetallic alloys,
  • Ceramic-metal composites (cermets),
  • Bulk amorphous alloys,
  • Ceramic and metal-matrix composites,
  • Thermal barrier coatings,
  • Wear coatings, and
  • Carbon foams.

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) researchers and industry partners work together to identify the types of materials technologies required for advanced engines. These include material compositions and properties, as well as manufacturing technology, component cost, life prediction, and durability. Engine manufacturers, component suppliers, and materials suppliers work collaboratively to develop practical, low-cost, and durable materials systems. In addition, propulsion materials research develops “enabling technologies” to ensure the success of new power electronics, advanced internal combustion engines, hybrid systems, and emission reduction technologies.

Propulsion materials research plays an important role in the area of emissions control and reduction. For example, the DOE, its industrial partners, and the national laboratories have developed materials that are effective in removing nitrides of oxygen (NOx) and particulate matter from diesel exhaust. Research is directed at dramatically reducing tailpipe emissions without compromising engine efficiency.


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