New Bore Materials
Years ago, piston manufacturer Mahle was one of the first performance companies to integrate a low friction skirt coating into many of its racing piston designs. At the AETC Mahle revealed that it is continuing to look for out-of-the-box innovations that will help racers and engine builders. One idea Mahle's Brad Green presented is to use a cylinder bore liner with a high silicone content. By using a special machining process with certain chemicals, parts of the other components in the bore liner are removed, revealing the large silicone "nodules" at the surface. The idea is that the silicone creates less friction as the piston travels up and down the cylinder bore.

Green also showed a photo of a piston with a very unique coating on the piston skirt. The coating itself was Mahle's standard Grafal coating we've seen for a few seasons now, but how the coating was applied was quite unique. Green explained that the Grafal is "printed" onto the piston. This means that Mahle can change the shape of the printed area relatively easily. The company is looking into printing the anti-friction coating into a sort of chevron pattern to funnel more oil to areas of the piston skirt that sees more loading against the cylinder bore. It's a simple way to make the coating perform an extra job without adding any real cost to the manufacture of the piston.

Currently, we don't know when or if these ideas will ever make it into production. But we're glad to see companies like Mahle continue to seek innovation to help us make more power with greater longevity.

Making Horsepower in the Computer
Clemson University's graduate program for automotive engineering is called CU-ICAR, and they've presented at the AETC for a few years now. One of CU-ICAR's specialties is developing simulation programs.

Presenters Dr Robert Prucka and Justin Callies revealed just how far we've come in our abilities to simulate exactly what is going on inside the engine. Don't make the mistake of thinking that sitting down in front of a computer to work on your engine is the realm of eggheads in lab coats. Simulations are already the area where the greatest advancements in creating horsepower are being made—and it's only going to become more important in the future.

Consider all the options you have to make as a racer. For example, how confident are you that your headers are the best choice possible for making the most power where you need it on your racetrack. The options available for engine headers are tremendous. You can change tube diameter, tube length, collector size, steps, the number of steps and even the distance between steps. And the best option can change depending on the rpms, cubic inches, and even elevation. So the best header for the guy racing in Florida on a tight 3/8-mile track may not be the best header for the guy racing the very same engine in Colorado on a half mile. Now imagine how much time, money and aggravation you can save testing any number of header configurations on a simulation that takes your engine configuration into account right down to whether you are running an open spacer or tapered. Obviously, such simulations are readily available to the common racer yet, but we can tell you it's only a matter of time. The 2012 AETC had a lot of valuable information and with PRI's move to Indianapolis in 2013, it should only get better.

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