Materion Corporation logo

SUPREMEX® METAL MATRIX COMPOSITES IMPROVE AUTOMOTIVE APPLICATIONS 

SupremEX aluminum-silicon-carbide metal matrix composites (MMCs) offer a unique combination of properties that help meet demands to reduce overall vehicle weight and improve engine efficiency in both the performance and passenger vehicle market segments. These materials can optimize automotive applications, including powertrain engine components, suspension systems and chassis.

SupremEX MMCs offer a balanced property combination that provides exceptional stiffness, twice the fatigue strength of most aluminum alloys, high tensile strength and resistance to wear and elevated temperatures.

SupremEX composites are available in several forms, including rolled sheets, hot isostatic pressing (HIP) billets, forged plates or shapes and extruded profiles. 

IMPROVE PERFORMANCE IN RACING AND POWERSPORTS APPLICATIONS 

In high performance powersport and racing applications, SupremEX MMCs offer multiple options that optimize engine performance for improved results on the track. SupremEX 225 pistons and valve spring retainers can be designed to increase both performance and efficiency by severely reducing reciprocating mass, friction, and knock sensitivity compared to conventional forged and cast aluminum piston alloys. In suspension systems, SupremEX composites make reliable, lightweight suspension upright and steering knuckle components that enhance vehicle dynamics. 

In high performance automotive applications, structural components and Body in White (BiW) frames made of SupremEX 620XF MMC reduce the overall body weight by 25% over those constructed of conventional steel or aluminum alloys with enhanced dynamics and efficiency, and the material offers greater damage tolerance than carbon fiber reinforced polymers (CFRP).   

IMPROVE FUEL EFFICIENCY AND REDUCE CO2 EMISSIONS IN PASSENGER VEHICLES 

Innovations successful on the track are often adapted for use in on-highway vehicles. As automotive designers address current challenges to reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption without sacrificing horsepower and reliability in passenger vehicles, many are turning to the high-performance materials that race teams have used for years. 

SupremEX 225 MMCs are an ideal high-performance replacement for conventional materials in powertrain components. They are 50% stronger than aluminum at high temperatures and when used for pistons, they enable changes such as reduced crevice volume and lighter piston pins, which improve power while reducing fuel consumption. Engine components made of SupremEX MMCs have low friction characteristics that result in reduced wear when running against other materials. These properties add up to optimized efficiency in high temperature, high pressure engine environments. 

Learn how SupremEX offers a significant step up in piston performance.

New Engine Testing Shows Reduced Emissions Without Losing Performance 

To further test the benefits of applying high performance racing materials to passenger car engines, our team has partnered with Cosworth Ltd. UK to perform comparative testing on a commercially available turbocharged passenger car engine. While testing is still underway, the initial results have shown significant friction and weight reductions.  

To initiate the engine testing, the piston and connecting rods were redesigned using SupremEX composites, which reduced the overall piston and pin mass by nearly 20%. Using SupremEX MMCs enabled several other beneficial design changes, including a shorter skirt to lower friction against the cylinder wall and a higher top ring groove, eliminating over 58% of the top land crevice volume. Using SupremEX composites also made it possible to remove the steel ring carrier and use a longer connecting rod while maintaining the same compression ratio.  The wear resistance of SupremEX 225CA MMC means that the top ring groove does not require a steel insert or anodization to protect against low speed pre-ignition. 

In the chart below, see how the engine design changes using SupremEX MMCs offered weight and other reductions compared with OEM components.

PISTON

OEM

Materion

Delta

Volume

138,880 mm3

101,844 mm3

-26.6%

Mass

372.2 g

295.7 g

-20.6%

Piston + Pin Mass

491.9 g

393.6 g

-19.9%

Compression Height

32.80 mm

27.85 mm

-15.1%

Top Ring Height

0

+1.67 mm

n/a

Crevice Volume

0.621 cc

0.259 cc

-58.2%

During the first phases of testing, the results have shown a substantial decrease in motored friction, which can be attributed to the reduction in reciprocating mass, the narrower piston skirt that causes less contact with the bore and the reduction of side force that resulted from the piston-guided rod and increased rod length. At 2,000 rpm, tests have shown a significant decrease in torque by 0.7 Nm and a 2.1 Nm decrease at 6,000 rpm. The friction reduction also enabled up to a 1.4% decrease in break-specific fuel consumption (BSFC). This was accomplished without rebalancing the crank shaft or balance shaft to account for the reduction in piston pin and rod mass. 

MOTORED FRICTION TESTING
motor-friction-testing-supremex

BSFC REDUCTION
BSFC-reduction-sumprex

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE DIFFERENT GRADES OF SUPREMEX COMPOSITES

The SupremEX MMC product family includes a range of high specific strength and specific stiffness to meet a variety of automotive requirements. To learn more about our different types of SupremEX composites, visit our SupremEX composite grades page

OTHER MATERION MATERIALS FOR AUTOMOTIVE APPLICATIONS

We also offer several other materials that offer unique benefits in automotive applications:

  • AMC4632 - an aluminum silicon alloy for weight reduction and stability at elevated temperatures in pistons and other automotive applications.  
  • ToughMet® alloy- a copper nickel tin alloy for friction and wear resistance along with dimensional stability in high performance powertrain bushings, valve guides and thrust washers.
  • Alloy 10X - a copper cobalt beryllium zirconium alloy for improved high temperature strength and ductility in exhaust valve seats. 
  • PerforMet® alloy - a copper nickel silicon chromium alloy for high hardness at high temperatures, which is ideal for valve seats, guides and piston rings.  

TALK WITH AN ENGINEER ABOUT SUPREMEX COMPOSITES

For more information about using SupremEX MMCs for your performance and commercial automotive applications or choosing the grade that best meets your requirements, talk with an engineer.