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National Science Foundation Grants Award to Modumetal for High Temperature Diesel Engine Coatings



By Tim Wright



Published December 22, 2009
Seattle-based Modumetal, Inc., has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) award for a cutting-edge new coating that is expected to improve the operating performance of diesel engines. Modumetal's coating technology will provide for greater operating temperatures to be achieved in diesel engines, thus improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions.

There is an ever increasing demand in the marketplace and in the regulatory environment for improvements in the fuel efficiency of transportation vehicles. A major limiting factor in meeting these needs is the availability of advanced materials that can survive the requisite operating temperatures. Modumetal's Thick Thermal Barrier Coating (T-TBC), which will be developed under the subject contract, is such a material that will provide the basis for high-temperature, high-efficiency automobile and truck diesel engines by reducing the apparent temperature at the engine's base metal and protecting against abrasion and temperature-accelerated degradation.

The project, which will be lead by Modumetal's Dr. John Whitaker, will involve specific application of a novel, nanolaminated T-TBC for insulation of critical engine components such as piston crowns, valve faces, and cylinder heads, and lower the heat rejected to the cooling system, which in turn increases the amount of the combustion energy converted to useful work. From an environment protection standpoint, the additional advantages afforded by higher diesel operating temperatures include reductions in both carbon emissions—unburned hydrocarbons, particulatesand CO2—and noise.


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