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Cosworth expands its pistons range

10 February 2021

Cosworth has collaborated with advanced materials supplier, Materion, to expand its range of pistons.

The collaboration has produced Metal Matrix Composite (MMC) pistons for the automotive sector. It has already been used to enhance performance in the all-new Gordon Murray Automotive T.50 supercar, which boasts a maximum speed of 12,000rpm and produces the highest specific output of any road going naturally aspirated engine at 166PS-per-litre.

Cosworth’s wealth of knowledge and experience in piston development and manufacture has long positioned it as the first port-of-call for many leading OE manufacturers.

Working with Materion, the move to Metal Matrix Composites has allowed Cosworth to move away from the traditional metal billets, forgings and castings that are not suited to the demands of tomorrow’s high-performance engines.

Materion’s SupremEX® composite combines ultrafine silicon carbide reinforcement with aerospace aluminium alloys. The result is a composite that is superior to conventional alloys, combining the lightweight properties of aluminium with outstanding strength and stiffness.

Higher working temperatures and combustion pressures can be achieved due to greater fatigue resistance (at running temperatures, more than double that of conventional aluminium alloys), with lower coefficient of friction and increased wear resistance contributing to improved combustion efficiency, brake specific fuel consumption and hydro-carbon emissions. More info can be found here.

These pistons are also an integral feature of the Lanzante TAG Turbo project. 11 mid-80s F1 Turbocharged V6 engines have been worked into the back of the very limited TAG 930s. The 1.5 litre engines secured 9 podiums in the 1984 F1 season, including a win at Brands Hatch at the hands of Niki Lauda.

Lanzante reached out to us to rework the 1000hp+ V6 into a reliable, useable, road going engine. The result is 503hp and 420Nm of torque with a rev limit if 9,000rpm, making these extremely limited engines the highest revving turbocharged power units used in a road legal car. An unachievable feat without the development of the MMC piston’s unique structure yielding high strength whilst remaining very lightweight.

Cosworth’s Managing Director of Powertrain, Bruce Wood said: Cosworth has produced pistons for our own applications and customer projects for decades. We specialise in high-performance forged pistons for applications as diverse as our small, 2-stroke diesel drone engine to our current hypercar engines for Aston Martin and Gordon Murray Automotive. Every piston design needs to balance performance with durability, and we are delighted to be working with Materion to harness their unique material properties to push the boundaries of what we can deliver.”

Materion’s Global Market Director, Dave Krus said: “Since the invention of SupremEX MMC and its successful run as pistons in Formula 1 racing, engine designers worldwide have recognized the material as a key to increased efficiency. To make the technology accessible to the broader automotive market, Materion’s Technology and Innovation experts have continued to develop ways to reduce cost and improve machinability. However, it took the pioneering engineers at Cosworth to design and implement pistons that fully demonstrate the material’s potential.  We’re proud to be working alongside them.”

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