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Wellington Uczak De Goes, doctor in Production technology

Although electric motors are expected to become standard in the vehicles of the future, Wellington explains that diesel engines will still be around for a long time to come. Researchers and vehicle manufacturers are therefore continuing to develop diesel engines in order to meet increasingly stringent requirements for reduced climate impact.

“As long as diesel engines are still being used, it is important that the fuel is used as efficiently as possible. There is currently no alternative fuel that delivers energy comparable to conventional oil-based fuels”, explains Wellington.

His research shows that the combustion of fuel in diesel engines becomes more efficient when the pistons are coated using thermal spraying.

“A thermal barrier coating on the top of the piston reduces energy loss in the diesel engine. This means that the fuel is burned more efficiently and fuel consumption is reduced, which in turn leads to lower emissions of greenhouse gases that are harmful to the climate.”

17,000 fewer diesel vehicles

Wellington’s results show that fuel consumption could be reduced by 0.7 per cent. He provides an interesting numerical example to show that even relatively small interventions like this can make a difference.

“There are currently around 2.4 million diesel-powered vehicles in Sweden. If their fuel consumption can be reduced by just 0.7 per cent, that would be equivalent to there being around 17,000 fewer diesel vehicles on the road.”

Wellington has tested and evaluated several different coating materials and two spraying techniques. The focus of his work was to explore the relationships between the process parameters, coating microstructure, thermal properties and performance.

“By combining different materials and spraying techniques, different effects on the microstructure and properties of the coating can be achieved. The techniques I have used are atmospheric plasma spraying (APS) and suspension plasma spraying (SPS).

“My evaluations show that two of the coating materials resulted in greater engine efficiency. The results are very promising, but more research is needed. Other researchers are now picking up from where I left off. A two-year research project has just begun.”

Strong interest from vehicle manufacturers

Volvo Cars, Volvo Trucks and Scania have been key research partners in Wellington’s project.

“They have followed my work with great interest all the way, and have provided valuable feedback. They also gave me access to their diesel engines to conduct engine experiments.”

For several decades and with great success, researchers at University West have been developing thermal barrier coatings that increase the efficiency of gas turbine engines. In this regard, suspension plasma spraying (SPS) has proven to be the most effective technique.

“Thermal spraying is generally a simple and inexpensive technique for the coating of components. With the relatively new SPS technology, the manufacturing industry has gained a wide range of possibilities and applications.”

For Wellington, new challenges now await at Höganäs, which is a global supplier of metal powders for, among other things, additive manufacturing and thermal spray coating. 

Read Wellington’s thesis: “Thermal barrier coatings for diesel engines” 

Contact: Wellington Uczak De Goes