Aluminium silicon alloys, produced using a process licensed by a small company in South Wales, could be adopted by car manufacturers to achieve weight and fuel savings.
Gwyn Brooks, managing director of Osprey Metals, which provides the technological nous behind the aluminium silicon alloy used in the cylinder linings of Mercedes-Benz’s new V6 engine, believes other car manufacturers will soon follow suit.
The cylinder linings produced by its spray-forming process are 20% lighter and a tighter fit, limiting oil ingress and reducing emissions.
Brooks said ‘the new cylinder linings would probably be impossible to produce without the Osprey process’.
This entails gas-atomised droplets of molten metal being sprayed on to a collecting surface to form a billet or preform. The preform solidifies quickly and evenly, so the alloy’s structure is finer, more uniform, homogeneous and ductile.
The alloy billets – 250mm diameter and 4m long – are supplied by an Osprey licensee, Peak, a German aluminium company. It is building plants in France and Germany to cope with demand.
In the interim, Osprey has been producing billets in Neath, West Glamorgan. Its main business is selling its spray forming and powder coating technologies. Up to 60% of its work is research and development.
Osprey is considering other automotive and aerospace applications for the aluminium silicon alloys.