STTR Phase I: Lightweight Self-Lubricating Cylinder Liners for IC Engines to Conserve Energy and Reduce Emissions

Period of Performance: 01/01/2016 - 12/31/2016


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Intelligent Composites, LLC
12247 W. Fairview Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53226
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Research Institution

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
PO Box 340
Milwaukee, WI 53201
Institution POC


This Small Business Technology Transfer Phase I project will investigate a hybrid, lightweight aluminum self-lubricating composite system which has promise to reduce friction and improve performance of cylinder liners in internal combustion engines. Friction between moving parts in an internal combustion engine, especially between the piston rings and cylinder liner, accounts for a large percentage of the parasitic losses that harm fuel economy. The high-performance materials to be studied and optimized in this work can lead to reduced oil and fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in a range of internal combustion (IC) engines. The Total Available Market (TAM) for cylinder liners in all internal combustion engines worldwide is estimated to be in excess of several billion dollars per year. Every internal combustion engine has one or more cylinders. The served available market (SAM) for powersports engines alone is estimated to be greater than $35 million. The initial target market for these materials will be cylinder liners for small displacement powersports engines, with the potential for follow-on markets in a wide array of personal and commercial vehicle engines. The intellectual merit of this project derives in part from the development of a database of structure-processing-property relationships in hybrid aluminum-silicon carbide-graphite metal matrix composites for internal combustion engine cylinder applications. This will include development of processing methods to manufacture cylinder liners with uniform dispersions of SiC and graphite, and will involve both lab and field testing of cylinder liner materials. The project work will help quantify and analyze the changes in friction coefficient, wear rate, fuel consumption, and oil by-pass for different hybrid composite liners in personal watercraft engines, and thereby help quantify the benefits to the end user in terms of energy savings, reduced emissions and improved performance. This project is designed to understand the best formulation of composite constituents to optimize performance while minimizing cost. There has not been a fundamental study to optimize compositions based on balancing costs, performance and emission characteristics. This work will help to develop a set of design principles for optimized liner chemistries depending on desired performance.