The quest for enhanced fuel efficiency and safety in automobiles is creating a multitude of opportunities for plastics. Promising applications in the power train segment alone, for example include front covers, oil pans, integrated AIM-EGR (air intake manifold-exhaust gas recirculation) systems, turbochargers, exhaust and muffler systems, and exhaust gas cooling systems.
The potential for polyamide (PA) resin in particular was outlined by Ryan Peng, Automotive Marketing Manager, Greater China, DuPont Performance Polymers at a pre-Chinaplas press event. He noted that Tier I supplier Shanghai Behr Thermal Systems had successfully adopted the company's Zytel Plus nylon in a charge air cooler, thereby enabling significant weight and cost reductions compared with aluminum, while also offering design freedom in terms of molding complex shapes required by tight engine compartments, and presenting component integration opportunities to boot.
Nowadays, turbochargers are often added to small, fuel-efficient engines to increase power while improving fuel efficiency. As part of the thermal management system, charge air coolers serve to cool hot turbo-charged air before returning it to the air intake manifold. Cooler air improves combustion efficiency.