Characterization Of Al-Si Alloy Engine Bores For Tribological Studies
Vijayalakshmi, S R
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Aluminum - Silicon alloys are recognized as appropriate materials for high performance cast components used in transportation powertrain applications. A combination of excellent wear resistance, good thermal conductivity and low density make these materials good candidates for engine bore applications. It is well accepted that the tribological properties of these alloys are dictated by the presence of hard eutectic silicon particles and their distribution in the soft aluminum matrix. Three near-eutectic aluminum-silicon engine bore alloys manufactured by different processing routes such as sand casting, chill casting and spray compaction were investigated to determine the influence of solidification on evolution of microstructure of these alloys and to establish correlation of microstructure with tribological properties. The spatial distribution of the silicon particles in aluminum matrix is analyzed using various image analysis techniques and contact distribution studies. The chill cast alloy shows large columnar primary aluminum dendrites interspersed with coarse silicon particles. The sand cast and spray compacted alloys show better spatial distribution of refined silicon particles. Microstructures generated under different solidification modes are found to have varying morphologies. The crystallographic orientations of the dendritic and eutectic aluminum as well as that of the eutectic silicon were studied using electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD). The eutectic silicon nucleating in chill cast alloy is found to exhibit strong orientation relationship with the aluminum matrix. The crystallographic orientation relationship shows that the solidification modes of the eutectics in these three alloys are different, from alloy to alloy, due to their different solidification rates and due to the addition of grain refiners and modifiers. The hardness values of the aluminum matrix and silicon particles of these alloys were found using nanoindentation and micro indentation tests. Preliminary wear studies were carried out on etched and unetched test alloys in dry reciprocating sliding. The results show that of the three test alloys, the alloy in which eutectic regions nucleate heterogeneously from the primary aluminum dendrites gives the best wear resistance and the highest hardness. The very low friction coefficient recorded for the etched alloys is accounted for by the insitu formation of a thin sheet of tribofilm on the protruding silicon particles. The physical and chemical natures of this protective film are being investigated.
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