Titanium Engine? Sense?

I was wondering, and yes I know this is a ford specific newsgroup but I thought it might make for some interesting comments because a lot of you seem to know a lot about the inner workings of engines, if making
an engine including the pistons and such would increase the gas milage or effiefciency of engines in general?
The reason I ask is I noticed we went from some cast-iron type engine to an alloy-alluminun type engine today. We're getting lighter but not stronger engine parts imho.
Does anyone have a comment on this? Or have I just lost it?
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Theres all manner of considerations in engine construction... metallurgy is a great part but techniques in "building" our alloys, machining techniques, casting and forging techniques, internal tolerances and oil control/chemistry are a few of the other considerations.
In the case of aluminum heads. Thermal stability is much different than other metals used in the engine. Aluminum heads are a PITA to seal to a cast iron block... enter the torque to yield bolt and multilayer steel shim headgaskets (not to mention some pretty tight tolerances in regards to machining finish and surface flatness.
Aluminum blocks are almost a conumdrum.... currently, technology is still having us use iron sleeves. An aluminum piston just wont live in an aluminum bore. Speaking of pistons... the modular engine pistons are hyper-eutectic but they are still aluminum. Gone is the deeper skirt found on old technology engines (hence the prevalence of piston slap on cold engines) but there is a (I forget the high-tech term) super slippery insert on the major and minor thrust surfaces of the lower portion of the piston.
Crankshafts... cast iron is still a bonafide material.... relatively cheap to cast or forge close to finished dimensions.... machining and balancing required. Forged steel, much stronger, same weight... much more expensive to build.... interesting note.... they can be machined from a great big steel billet to finished shape... or they can be machined from a half sized steel billet (looking like a flattened out crank) and twisted to shape. Dome properly, the latter yields a much stronger crank but they are difficult to produce and spendy, spendy, spendy.
Todays engines are more "purpose built".... Grandads old Buick Roadmaster had this great, huge lump of cast iron in the engine bay.... You could abuse this thing all weekend, take it back and Grandad would never know the difference. Todays motors are very good, but only if we don't exceed design intentions.... overheating will kill a modern motor very quickly..... ditto some of the other abuse we seem to be able to hepa on these machines.
For fuel economy, the gasoline Ottocycle engine has gone about as far as it can.... fuel management is the big concern but emissions reductions sometimes means we can't expect less gasoline to pass through the motor. The Escape hybrid uses an (IIRC) Atcheson or Atkinson cycle engine... same design as the Ottocycle but the valve timing has been drastically altered to reduce fuel consumption.... However, it also reduces the usable power band of the motor. As the CVT transmission gains acceptance, I think we will also see even more changes to the engines powering these vehicles.
My own outlook sees the diesel engine as being the "next big thing"... new management systems that have them running quieter, sulfur content in fuel is being mandated at lower levels, reduce particulate emissions and easier fuel computations being some of the driving factors.
For the most part, it is a complex dance between mileage, power output and tailpipe emissions.
FWIW.... in our harsh northern climate, we see more new technology motors lasting 300,000, 400,000 and even 500,000 kilometers than we ever saw with old technology motors.
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Jim Warman wrote:

Mr Warman, I agree nearly word for word with this post. You seem to speak with knowledge and common sense. My only disagreement is (maybe)with the diesel engine. I agree with your assertions, public acceptance will be the hardest to overcome in the US. European diesels have been great sellers even today. US ventures into diesel have been underwelming, at best. The gas engine driven public has been disillusioned by the likes of the Olds 5.7 diesel and their failure inthe first years(I understand and like them myself) along with other early ventures into diesel cars.(the import VW rabbit diesels couldn't be beat for economy). Properly designed diesels with modern fuel\emission controls should make gas engines a thing of the past, or at least relegate them to low end cars.
Jim, you are the sort of person that I would like to meet personally for lunch and discuss automotive things one on one. The discussion might last through dinner , coctails, closing time and continue until we were told by the local constabulary to vacate the sidewalk. I was a Ford Tech for a number of years but left in 2001. I didn't leave my quest for knowledge though.
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Thanks, Tom (but I have to say that "Mr. Warman" was my Dad... I'm just Jim)....
I'm just a working stiff that likes what he does (though the pay could be better).
As far as the diesel is concerned.... these are being developed as never before. http://www.dieselforecast.com/ArticleDetails.php?articleID 3 is a very interesting read....
The Ford SuperDuty has gained a lot of popularity.... those that wouldn't consider a diesel before are getting into this in droves. I can envision a diesel hybrid.... With a redesign motor coming in MY 2007, Ford and Navistar seem to be abandoning the HEUI injcetor and going to a common rail system. I'm not sure what fuel pressures we will see, but I think they will make our eyebrows flutter.
The much touted 42 volt systems are still bein set bcak time after time.... but, if we take a page from the way Ford does diesel, we see that the old 7.3L motor used 115 volts to power the fuel injectors... the 6.0 uses 48 volts to the same ends. No need to power the whole vehicle at 42 volts when we can select our areas.
Additonally, variable cam timing is more prevalent than ever.... manufacturers can, thus far, fulfill many requirements using relatively cheap variable cam timing to achieve things close to what more expensive solenoid controlled valves would deliver. The cam phasers on the "new" 5.4 3V are amazing in their simplicity.
Lord knows that some enterprising experimenter or an engineer building browny points while we are aleep tomight could change the face of the automobile as we know it (though the likelyhood is small)... the future of the infernal (sp) combustion motor is going to be nothing less than "interesting"...
BTW... if I start in on Ceasars with extra Tabasco... you'd be in for a long, long evening....
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Heh...Jim knows his stuff alright! It's great to see a pro that not only knows a WHOLE LOT about HOW it works, but WHY it works that way!
Something that's missing in a lot of professionals. And why I do my own stuff. IF Jim worked around where I live, I probably wouldnt bother.
There's a couple other guys on here that know their stuff, too, and that's why the success rate on here is so high. I know some stuff by experience and digging out the background/physics/science and learn the rest from them.
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Big Big Issue COST.
Steel is Cheap, easily recycled, reused and tooled.
Titanium is Brittle, expensive and not as easy to work with as Steel. The new Diesels are good (the New Mercedes & BMW's are sweet: powerful, efficient and quiet) Though there is that "particulate emission" issue. Children with Asthma, longer term potential cancer risk might limit it's adoption in the US.... Europeans lives aren't worth as much as Americans (one only need look at court settlements to verify this fact)
Gasoline is cheap, Steel is cheap for all it's faults gasoline can even be made to burn quite clean. Diesels also have the fuel gelling issue. One's car not starting at the mall or cottage is more of a concern in Chicago or Duluth than if you save $50 a year in fuel costs. (plus Diesel stinks).
At the present rate of consumption there's 100 years of fuel supplies for America in the tar sands of Alberta Canada. Thus, in the grand scheme of things fuel is hardly a pressing concern when one thinks of the Middle East, Russia & other regions oil supplies
There was an article in a magazine (can't recall which one) a few months ago on replacing gasoline with nano-sized iron as a replacement for gasoline (iron rapidly oxidizing will produce more power than gasoline apparently). Something for the far off future....
Though a good hybrid system could allow the average person to go months without purchasing fuel (charge at home & at work use gasoline only for long trips)
Titanium is really only viable is certain locations on high performance engines. (usually valve train components). On a lower revving engine it really isn't required or even all that beneficial.
It's all a balancing act. Perhaps when all the cars are assembled in China or India there will be more incorporation of Titanium components.
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As for fuel, for whatever reason, the tar sands are not being utilized to their potential right now. It is important to realize that under the present oil supply-demand scenario, when crude oil is run through a refinery, gasoline accounts for just under half of the barrel, while distillate fuel oil (diesel, heating oil, and kerosene) accounts for about 25%, so a major move to diesels would mean a big increase in crude oil requirements or a major re-jiggering of refining capacity. Either way, you'll pay for it. (BTW, as late as the early 1970s, in the N.East US, when gasoilne was selling for about 32c a gallon, diesel was about half that price. Today, gasoline is about $2.40 and diesel is nearly $3.)
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On Thu, 1 Dec 2005 00:49:41 -0500, "sglasser"

I'll agree with you on that (most likely b/c of Europe going diesel).
Now... if they could find a way to cheaply produce canola/rape seed oil or sunflower etc oil, Diesel would become cheaper due to the ease of cutting diesel with light oils.
I believe (could be wrong on this) but the reason that the Tar sands aren't being fully utilized is the fear from the oil companies that the minute they invest big in the Tar sands oil will plummet back to $24/Barrel & they'll be losing their shirts again.
I've also heard that the Tar sands cost something like $4 more a barrel to refine than Light Sweet crude as well. (not that, that would be a factor..... ;-)
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rules out running on peanut oil, too.
http://torontosun.com/News/Canada/2005/11/26/1324805-sun.html
"Peanut: kiss of death"
Now here is a thought, unfeeling and fascist as it is...
If a pregnant woman can smoke crystal meth just before giving birth, and have appellate court overturn her conviction for manslaughter, then why...????
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