Thursday 2 October 2014

China set for 30 million cars by 2015

China is forecast to make 30 million cars by 2015 and account for 30 per cent of the world market.

This is the view of Liu Jincheng of SinterCast Trading (Beijing) Co. Ltd who notes that in 2013, car production and sales amounted to 22,116,800 and 21,984,100 vehicles respectively. The figures show an increase of 14.8 per cent and 13.9 per cent respectively compared to the previous year and account for 25 per cent of the world share.

Car sales have increased from 4 per cent of the world market in 2001 to 22 per cent in 2009.

However, according to Liu Jincheng, writing in the July 2014 issue of China Foundry, Chinese car makers face serious challenges in all aspects of car manufacture. This is especially so engine performance, fuel economy, durability and emissions legislation, especially as Chinese emission standards fall behind advanced levels in other parts of the world.

Within the last 10 years, the Chinese government has attached great importance to technological innovation, emphasising that it should be one of the main driving forces of economic reform, development and competitiveness improvement.

In car manufacture, the most important means of increasing competitiveness is seen to lie in the area of improving engine performance, fuel economy, durability, and emissions legislation compliance. One route could be achieved by designing new engines to use new materials, such as compacted graphite iron (CGI).

The Research Report on Sustainable Development Strategy of Automotive Manufacturing Industry, produced by the Chinese Academy of Engineering, has suggested improving diesel engine performance in all aspects’ as well as increasing the ratio of diesel engines in passenger vehicles, as already achieved in developed countries. Materials selection is critically important to the engine design.

Using the unique properties of CGI, engine designers can improve performance, fuel economy and durability while reducing engine size, weight, noise and emissions.

China has many large automobile and commercial vehicle manufacturers which have engine design institutes. Also, many well known engine design companies are already active in China.

Chinese OEMs could apply their design teams and foreign engine design companies to produce their own high performance CGI engines. Development and design of high-performance, high-demand and high value-added CGI engines would seem to have excellent prospects in China.
                                      Highly stable structures

However, today’s high-performance CGI diesel and gasoline engines require CGI castings to satisfy the ISO 16112 standard with a highly stable graphite structure and no flake graphite.

China has recently adopted the 0-20% nodularity definition in the national CGI standard. Several Chinese foundries have already installed the SinterCast system of process control and are producing world class CGI castings.

All of these are beneficial for Chinese foundries to produce CGI blocks and heads cost-efficiently, stably, consistently and with high traceability. In high performance CGI engines, China is behind the world advanced level. In order to catch up, Chinese foundry and OEMs can utilize existing grey iron tooling to make CGI block to manufacture high performance CGI engine. Chinese engine designers also need to design high performance engine based on the unique properties of CGI.

The SinterCast process control system calculates the optimum magnesium and inoculant additions for the base treatment of subsequent ladles. This calculation is based on the historical recovery results from previous ladles and automatic input of the sulphur content of the base iron and the actual ladle weight and temperature.

Foundries must ensure high quality CGI castings in volume production to meet customer specifications. Volume production must be cost-effective with low porosity scrap rates, good castability, and consistent machining results.

But the window for stable CGI production is precisely defined and therefore the control of the stable CGI range must be accomplished through a precise process that uses an accurate thermal analysis sampling technique as well as a two-step measure-and-correct control strategy to preclude operator error and to deliver consistency to the moulding line.

SinterCast’s thermal analysis process control system provides an accurate analysis of the molten iron and correction technique to ensure that the risk for out-of-specification castings is identified and prevented prior to casting.

The SinterCast process enables the consistent production of CGI with low nodularity, without risking flake graphite formation. The technology is suitable for Chinese foundry production and is currently in series production in China.
                                               Grey iron tooling

Chinese foundries can use grey iron tooling to make high quality CGI engine block and head castings with the proper process control technology. Because of good castability and a stable nodularity range with the SinterCast process, CGI block and head castings are currently being produced in grey iron tooling by many international foundries. Experience has shown that both grey iron blocks and CGI blocks have in-spec dimensions, and these dimensions are within tolerances.

Although grey iron tooling can be used to make high quality CGI engine block and head castings, for enhanced engine performance, most engines with CGI castings have been specially designed based on the unique properties of CGI.

As global OEMs gain experience with the characteristics of CGI and the benefits for engine performance, more CGI engines have been designed and produced.

The applications have been expanded from diesel engines to now include the first high-volume gasoline EcoBoost 2.7-litre engine with a CGI vee cylinder block casting, launched for North America’s best-selling vehicle, the Ford F150 pick-up truck.

Also, although CGI usage began with Audi and Ford passenger vehicles the material is now widely used in commercial vehicle applications, off-road trucks, construction, agriculture applications, power generators, and the locomotive and marine industries.

                                             One million a year

To date, more than 60 different types of engines use CGI block and heads have been designed, produced and are running in the world. The current global production of CGI engines is approximately one million engines per year.

For CGI engine applications, the width of the main bearing can be decreased by 20 to 25 per cent. CGI engines not only can have shorter lengths but the shorter length can result in less overall weight than an aluminium engine. One example is the Audi 3-litre V6 diesel engine with a CGI block versus the Mercedes 3-litre V6 with an aluminium block. Both engines have comparable power characteristics, but the Audi engine is 125 mm shorter and weighs 15 kg less Audi/Volkswagen is one of the world's leading high-volume, high performance engine designers.

Chinese foundries have to adopt world advanced technology to improve their CGI production and produce CGI blocks and heads for modern high performance, fuel efficient, durable and environment-friendly CGI engines.

The Chinese engine market needs to more closely evaluate the use of CGI castings in diesel and petrol engines and evaluate the part they can play in meeting the requirements for environmental improvement and technological innovation. Chinese foundries can use grey iron tooling to make high quality CGI engine blocks and heads.

Chinese OEM engine designers and foundry engineers also need to work closely together to design and produce high performance CGI castings. High volume production of high performance engines using CGI castings needs to be developed as soon as possible in China in order to match global standards and technologies.

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