The single heaviest component on a car, next to that pesky frame, is the iron-lump engine block. Even when it’s honed from aluminum, it’s still a lump—unacceptable, when almost the entire rest of the car can be crafted from svelte, slinky carbon fiber. Until now.
Florida engineer Matti Holtzberg has been working on a composite engine block for the past 40 years, and now he’s finally cracked it (figuratively, not literally). Based on a Ford 2.0-liter Duratec block, Holtzberg’s engine is made from a six-piece mold and a removable core that contains much of the oil passages. The engine takes aluminum cylinder liners to provide strength; previous attempts failed because the carbon fiber cylinder passages just couldn’t hold up.
The engine takes two hours to cure, though Holtzberg mentions that with some production changes an engine could be ready in 5 minutes. Machining effort is minimal, Holtzberg says, because of the accurate molding process. From then it is ready to take more carbon-fiber components such as manifolds, cam covers, and oil pans for special racing purposes.
All in all, the engine cuts 20 pounds from a stock aluminum Duratec engine. But the weight savings won’t be cheap—Car and Driver cites a price of $2500 per pound of weight, which could mean $50,000. Hey, nobody said progress came cheap. But anything to cut the weight of our Modern Safety Vehicles is fighting the good fight. Now you’re thinking with carbon fiber!
[Source: Car and Driver]