The Belgian coatings company Bekaert has developed a diamond like carbon (DLC) coating for pistons that can help boost the horsepower of standard aluminium motorcycle engines.
DLCs are amorphous carbon based coatings with a high hardness and a low coefficient of friction. Their composition and structure results in excellent wear resistance and non-sticking characteristics. The coatings are thin, chemically inert and have a low surface roughness.
Once applied to a piston, the DLC coating reduces the friction between the piston and the liner, which leads to the increase in engine power output. One advantage of applying the coating to increase power is that designers need not make any structural changes to the engine design itself to improve its performance.
Working with French-based Akira Technologies, the company has recently demonstrated that coated pistons allow an engine to develop a one per cent greater horsepower at low rpm, rising as high as two per cent at 13,000 rpm.
Bekaert has patented both the application of DLC coatings on pistons and the surface preparation that is required prior to applying the DLC coatings. The coating service is currently available in Limoges in France and Amherst, New York. As of next year, it will also be available in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.