Automobile Engine Oil Pans made from Polyamide 66
50 Percent Weight Savings
In the manufacture of automobile engine oil pans polyamides have a large potential to make weight savings when compared to sheet steel and die cast aluminum. This is illustrated by the example of the 1.8 and 2.0 liter turbocharged gasoline engines that are used in for instance Audi A3,A4 and A6 as well as the Volkswagen Passat. Their oil pans are made from Durethan AKV 35 H2.0, a polyamide 66 from Lanxess AG, Leverkusen, Germany, and weigh around 1 kg less than a component solution made from steel. Compared to an aluminum version they are approximately 50 % lighter. „A weight saving of this order of magnitude not only considerably reduces gasoline consumption and CO2 emissions of the vehicle, it also improves the handling because it is achieved in the front axle area,“ commented Frank Krause, Lanxess’expert on oil contact motor components made from polyamide. The oil pans are manufactured by Polytec Plastics Germany GmbH & Co KG, Lohne, Germany.
Additional strengths of polyamide in comparison to metal can be seen amongst other things in potential cost savings through functional integration via injection molding. In the case of the oil pans for the turbo engines for example the mountings for the oil level sensor and oil drain screw can be molded in situ. According to Krause, „it is precisely when multiple functions can be integrated that significant cost savings in comparison to aluminum construction can be achieved since separate welding and mechanical work operations and their associated logistical overheads can be eliminated.“ Plausible „candidates“ for functional integration in the case of oil pans are for instance the mountings for the oil cooler and filtration, cheeks to increase the volume of oil, piping for the oil return or stiffening elements in the area of the gearbox support.
Durethan AKV 35 H2.0 has a 35 % glass fiber content. In spite of this reinforcement it is possible to manufacture low warpage oil pans whose flanges provide a good seal. The high toughness, stiffness and strength of the polymer contribute to good resilience of the oil pan to stone impact and grounding on high curbs. The heat stabilization of the polyamide ensures high dimensional stability of the components under typical continuous thermal loadings. Plastic oil pans benefit from the trend towards more compact engines.
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