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Morgan Technical Ceramics has signed an agreement with a provider of automotive mechatronic drive and pump solutions to supply ceramic components for hybrid and electric vehicles.

The pumps will be used in a hybrid vehicle being designed by a major vehicle manufacturer, which is scheduled for launch in 2011.

Morgan Technical Ceramics is providing ceramic components for three water-cooling pumps that will be used in each vehicle to cool the high-energy battery, the cabin heater and the power electronics loop that drives the vehicle.

Ceramic is said to have excellent mechanical and chemical properties and is extremely hardwearing.

As a result, it gives excellent performance in harsh environments where aggressive glycol coolants are used and has a longer life than alternative materials such as stainless steel.

This makes it suitable for pumps that are designed to operate continuously, whether the vehicle is running or recharging.

High-grade alumina ceramic also has excellent thermal stability through a range of temperatures and it is 2.5 times lighter than steel, resulting in additional energy-efficiency benefits.

Ceramic components are quiet in operation over extended periods thanks to their wear resistance.

This is particularly important in hybrid and electric vehicles where engines are quiet and minor noises are noticeable.

In contrast, the wearing of steel shafts is more likely to result in pits and grooves in the shafts, causing vibration and noise.

Morgan Technical Ceramics is a single-source supplier of the precision-ground alumina shafts and bearings.

It was selected for the project because of its expertise with precision ceramic components for specialist pump applications and its ability to manufacture ceramic to extremely tight tolerances.

The company was also a development partner in the design process, providing consultation on material specifications, finishing requirements and the technical features of the shafts and bearings.

The ceramic components are being manufactured at the company’s facility in Stourport, UK.

Morgan Technical Ceramics is also able to use experience gained from its high-volume manufacturing facility and detailed knowledge of pump applications to optimise the manufacturing of the smaller ceramic components needed for the hybrid vehicle cooling pump application.

‘The pump containing our ceramic components has gone through a rigorous trial and testing process and we are pleased that it has passed the Production Part Approval Process [PPAP] used by many automotive companies to qualify their component and process service suppliers,’ said Chris Paine, applications engineer at Morgan Technical Ceramics.

Morgan Technical Ceramics specialises in hybrid and electric vehicles used in public transportation, including buses and trains, and discussions are under way with systems manufacturers to optimise device performance by using ceramic components.

The ceramic components are also being used in a variety of other hybrid and electric automotive applications now being designed.

Morgan Advanced Ceramics

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