Cool new technology

17 Mar 2021

Engineering capacity news posted by Andy Sandford

New heat shield technology is said to be 35% better than conventional solutions, reducing heat transfer by almost a quarter and providing significant surface temperature reduction.

The automotive and motorsports heat management specialist Zircotec is launching the new heat shield solution, ZircoFlex® SHIELD which out-performs traditional products in weight, thermal performance and packaging space, depending on the needs of the user, according to a detailed research program carried out by the company.

This patented technology comprises a traditional insulation core combined with Zircotec’s proprietary thermal barrier coatings. Whether the need is to improve performance, decrease weight, or save space, the company says ZircoFlex® SHIELD delivers against all these criteria.

At half the thickness of the next best heatshield from another manufacturer, ZircoFlex® SHIELD achieves a 40% improvement in heat shielding with as much as a 125oC reduction in surface temperature in exhausts.  The company also claims that it secures the same performance of the next best competitor in almost half the volume with a 40% reduction in weight.

ZircoFlex® SHIELD is the output of many years of development. Extensive real-world testing has been carried out on the engine of a four-cylinder British Touring car (350+bhp, 2L turbo) with many different exhaust pipes fitted with several of the industry leading insulation materials looking at varying levels of insulation.

The research and development program examined both detachable and integral heat shields at different engine speeds and loads, and simulated typical under-hood temperature conditions. The key area of interest was at high rpm and full load where heat flux is the highest. Exhaust gas temperatures (from 660 to 730oC) were measured entering and exiting the exhaust pipe, along with surface temperatures (from 116 to 695oC).

Zircotech says measurements have shown conclusively that ZircoFlex® SHIELD has significantly better thermal performance at a lower weight (by 40%) and lower volume (by 46%). This will therefore enable engines to run more efficiently and the cars to travel significantly faster. It perfectly balances the requirements of thermal performance against weight and space.

Graeme Barette, sales director of Zircotec, said: “If you can retain more heat within the exhaust gases of a turbocharged engine; if you can shield the driver from heat while the engine idles in traffic jams; and if you can lower the temperature under the bonnet at a given engine speed – well then you are seriously increasing race performance and efficiency of on-road cars and off-highway commercial vehicles, such as in AgriTech. That’s what ZircoFlex® SHIELD delivers.

“Thermal protection is particularly important in electric vehicles, where batteries are very dependent on their environment. It is well documented that high and low temperatures can reduce the battery life expectancy and journey distance before re-charging is needed.

“This extended life and keeping more of the heat within the car has obvious environmental benefits, as well as driver comfort.”

The development of ZircoFlex® SHIELD is the result of years of investment in R&D, averaging £1m per year, culminating in a £2.5 million investment into much larger premises and new equipment last year.

Zircotec specialises in plasma-spray processing and thermal barrier solutions and develops high-performance surface coatings and finishes. It works with most F1 teams and other leading OEMs, high-end supercar manufacturers and motorsport organisations incorporate its heat shielding.