NASA Creates an Eco-Friendly Alloy
An alloy developed as part of a government-business partnership to create environmentally friendly vehicles has found a new life reviving the two-stroke motor.
In the 1990s, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center participated in the Partnership for Next Generation Vehicles to develop a high-strength, heat-tolerant alloy (MSFC 398) in conjunction with a major auto manufacturer. With expertise in metallurgical engineering and materials science, NASA Marshall was tasked with creating a durable and heat-resistant alloy that could be manufactured using conventional techniques.
The resulting alloy found new life when BRP (Bombardier Recreational Products) licensed it in 2003 to produce two-stroke engines that met strict environmental requirements.
Forged pistons produce an environmentally friendly engine, but cost twice as much to produce. MSFC 398 offers three times the tensile strength of comparable materials at high temperatures, allowing BRP to produce a quieter, more durable, lower cost, more fuel efficient, and cleaner-burning piston. The alloy’s strength and high-temperature capabilities place it in a class with those pricey forged pistons.
BRP has produced more than 500,000 pistons for its Evinrude E-TEC engines, which are used on boats. NASA Marshall also has an agreement with an Alabama firm to use the alloy in four-stroke, air-cooled engines that power motor scooters. NASA hopes to find additional licensees that are interested in the alloy for other high-temperature uses.
For more information about accessing NASA Marshall technology, contact: Fuentek, LLC (919) 249-0327, firstname.lastname@example.org
–By Karen Hiser