Saturday, August 22, 2009

Street car

Street car engines don't endure the kind of extreme stresses that race car engines do, but they do waste a tremendous amount of energy as heat, which is, in part, why car engines are so inefficient. Coating the piston heads and engine block cylinder heads with NiCrAlY would allow hotter combustion for higher efficiency and longer life, Holmes speculates.
Time will tell what uses engineers find for this new technique, called Functional Gradient Material (FGM), but the technology is already developed. Holmes and his colleagues (Sandy Elam at MSFC, and Tim McKechnie at Plasma Processes, Inc.) have performed more than 100 test firings using small thrust chamber liners made in this way, and they are in the process of scaling up to larger, spaceship-sized designs.

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