A piston ring is a piston ring is a piston ring, or at least that’s what most people think. But what it’s made of, how well it’s engineered and how effectively it seals the combustion chamber, transfers heat from the piston to the cylinder wall and controls lube oil consumption, are key in engine efficiency and power output.

This is more critical than ever as global shipping faces tightening emission regulations and the quality of ships’ bunkers continues to be a concern.

The composition and machining of piston rings have become top priorities as engine designers have continued their drive to raise power output per cylinder and time between overhauls (TBO). More power leads to greater thermal stress and higher loads on cylinder liners and piston rings.

“Piston ring composition has never been more important,” explains Dr Karim Khene, Technical Manager at Precision Products and a specialist in materials engineering. “Coatings are a key focus for us because they are so essential to good combustion efficiency and rates of wear.

“That’s why we are working with Sheffield University to fund new research initiatives looking at advanced coating materials and ways in which they can be applied safely.”

A particular aim of the research is to find an alternative to ceramic chrome coatings and their application, a process that may face regulatory challenges. Dr Khene has a background in ceramic coating applications and this experience is expected to be particularly advantageous.

Precision Products is currently working on possible component applications for ceramic metal. A joint research project with a major global OEM is focusing on how such products can be applied during the manufacturing process and how they perform in practice.