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Evaluation of High-Temperature Martensitic Steels for Heavy-Duty Diesel Piston Applications...

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Five different commercially available high-temperature martensitic steels were evaluated for use in a heavy-duty diesel engine piston application and compared to existing piston alloys 4140 and microalloyed steel 38MnSiVS5 (MAS). Finite element analyses (FEA) were performed to predict the temperature and stress distributions for severe engine operating conditions of interest, and thus aid in the selection of the candidate steels. Complementary material testing was conducted to evaluate the properties relevant to the material performance in a piston. The elevated temperature strength, strength evolution during thermal aging, and thermal property data were used as inputs into the FEA piston models. Additionally, the long-term oxidation performance was assessed relative to the predicted maximum operating temperature for each material using coupon samples in a controlled-atmosphere cyclic-oxidation test rig. A current commercial steel piston alloy, quenched and tempered martensitic steel 4140, was tested in a single-cylinder research engine for a baseline oxidation and mechanical performance assessment using an abbreviated (50h) durability test plan. The predicted suitability of a candidate piston material in an engine is primarily based on its elevated temperature strength, oxidation resistance, and the complex influence of thermal conductivity, the latter of which is substantially lower for the candidate materials considered in this research relative to the traditional alloys. Although the lower thermal conductivity causes the candidate alloys to operate in higher temperature ranges under identical engine operating conditions and piston geometries, increasing the likelihood of partially or completely negating their strength and oxidation resistance advantages relative to 4140 and MAS steels, this evaluation indicates that several of the candidate piston alloys are predicted to enable improved oxidation resistance under more severe engine operating conditions relative to the current piston materials. However, further evaluation is required to determine if the elevated temperature fatigue strength and durability of these alloys are suitable for more severe engine conditions.