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New SwRI consortium to target advances in gasoline and diesel engine aluminum cylinder head designs

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) announced the formation of a new consortium in partnership with leading castings solutions provider Grainger & Worrall (G&W) to advance automotive cylinder head designs. The Aluminum Head Evaluation, Analysis, and Durability (AHEAD) consortium seeks to reduce the weight while improving the durability of aluminum cylinder heads—an increasingly important need as materials and components are pushed to their limits in modern engines.

Initially, AHEAD will target advances for aluminum cylinder heads used in both gasoline and diesel engines, such as casting processes, structural design, measurement and prediction of residual stresses, and aluminum alloy materials that resist high-temperatures. More advanced projects could include new alloy development, cylinder head transient analysis, materials characterization, and others.

As fuel economy and greenhouse gas regulations drive the need for lighter-weight engines, cylinder heads and their components will need to change. AHEAD offers a cost-effective way for manufacturers to develop new technologies that stand up to the heavy demands of modern engines.

—Douglas Eberle, manager of the Powertrain Design and Analysis Section of the SwRI Engine, Emissions and Vehicle Research Division

Potential technology areas of concentration include, but are not limited to advances in:

  • Aluminum alloy materials for high temperature resistance
  • Casting processes
  • Structural design
  • Analysis procedures
  • Material characterization
  • Measurement and prediction of residual stresses

While actual projects will be determined by the consortia voting membership, examples of projects could include:

  • Casting process simulation advancement
  • Materials characterization advancement
  • Cylinder head transient analysis
  • Temperature fields and deformation
  • Fatigue analysis
  • Role of cold shut and oxidation voids on fatigue
  • Non-destructive casting evaluation
  • Cylinder head design innovation
  • New alloy development
  • Others as identified by SwRI and/or consortium participants

The four-year program kicks off this summer and is open to automotive original equipment manufacturers and suppliers. Two membership tiers are available: Associate membership is $60,000 per year and Full membership is $100,000 per year. Full membership includes meeting attendance, reports, and royalty-free access to intellectual property, as well as project selection rights.

Details of provisions to be included with associate membership will soon be announced. Only full members will be eligible to determine the focus of research.

As an independent research and development organization, SwRI has a long history of managing successful consortia for the automotive industry. Other ongoing programs include the Clean High-Efficiency Diesel Engine (CHEDE) consortium, the Advanced Engine Fluids (AEF) consortium, and the High-Efficiency Dilute Gasoline Engine (HEDGE) consortium that developed the highly efficient Dedicated-EGR technology now being integrated into production engines. (Earlier post.)

Members benefit from the collective funding of consortia such as these, enabling substantially more pre-competitive research than is typically possible with funding by a single client.

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