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The PSA Group (Peugeot Societe Anonyme) is using Bekaert’s Dylyn Plus coating to make cars more fuel efficient and more environmentally friendly.

Two years ago, a cooperative test programme was established between PSA, the manufacturer of Peugeot Citroen automobiles, and Bekaert to measure the impact of diamond-like carbon (DLC) coatings on the frictional behaviour of certain components within the valve train of a production engine.

For this purpose, the components were coated with Bekaert’s Dylyn Plus, a member of the company’s DLC range of coatings specifically aimed at high-volume automotive applications.

The test engine was a four-cylinder, 1.6-litre gas engine currently used by PSA.

Bekaert coated certain components within the valve train assembly with a Dylyn Plus DLC coating.

Tests were then conducted on an electrically driven test rig.

Hydraulic and mechanical tappets were tested over a wide temperature range (20C to 120C) in order to study the behaviour in different conditions and to quantify the results.

It became clear that the DLC coatings were a benefit to the engine’s performance.

The gains were very important at both low RPMs and at low temperatures, which corresponds with the operating conditions of city driving.

On engine start up there is an immediate 20 per cent gain – even at low temperatures – which increases to over 30 per cent at normal operating temperatures.

This means that in typical city driving, where most drivers do not exceed 3,000rev/min (the typical urban range is 700-2,800rev/min), a reduction of between 25 per cent to 35 per cent in friction loss is expected.

‘The PSA Group estimates that the overall fuel consumption is reduced by one to two per cent, implying an estimated saving of 2-3g/km of carbon dioxide for a small engine,’ said Mark Boghe, Bekaert’s DLC product market manager automotive/racing worldwide.

Market indicators show that the benefits of DLC valve train coatings will be mostly visible in small gas-engined cars.

Several engine manufacturers are developing small three-cylinder gas engines for smaller cars typically used in an urban environment.

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