Zircotec invests in all-new R&D facility

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Heat management specialist Zircotec has detailed the development of an all new R&D facility to accelerate the advancement of new thermal coatings, heat shields and manufacturing processes.

Led by Dr Paul Prince, a chemist with a background in nanotechnology, the facility will provide data on the high-temperature performance of thermal barrier coatings.

“Unlike academic research, our activities will provide an immediate commercial benefit for our customers by enabling us to select the optimum solutions for their individual applications more quickly,” explained Dr Prince.

“We can compress the timescale for each new application by using a comprehensive database on material performance to guide the initial selection, reducing the number of design iterations needed to reach the optimum result. The facility will also enable us to develop new solutions and advance our manufacturing processes.”

The newly added test rig uses a controlled heat source to evaluate coatings and heat shields at gas temperatures up to 900°C but can also generate data at much lower temperatures. The coatings and processes developed will be applicable to heat shields, surrounding components and directly onto the heat source itself.

Zircotec’s investment is driven by growing demand from the automotive industry for solutions to manage today’s higher exhaust line temperatures, according to Dr Prince: “Pressures to reduce emissions and improve engine efficiency are leading to powertrain strategies that continually increase exhaust temperatures.

“For example, the use of alternative fuels, such as natural gas in place of petrol or diesel, can raise the exhaust temperature by 200°C. Accommodating such a large increase within a packaging space that is often highly constrained requires advanced thermal barrier technology.”

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Sam joined the UKi Media & Events automotive team in 2017, having recently graduated from the University of Brighton with a degree in journalism. For the newest addition to the editorial team, stepping into the assistant editor position signalled the start of a career in the subject he studied. Now deputy editor for Professional MotorSport World and Engine + Powertrain Technology International, Sam writes content for both of the magazines and websites.

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