Abstract :

Piston is the major part of an automotive engine. It is commonly produced from aluminum reinforced with expensive particles like graphite, B4C, TiC and SiC. In most developing nations, used pistons are indiscriminately discarded thereby constituting environmental hazard. To reduce cost of reinforcement and minimize waste disposal challenges, piston materials can be developed from local sources. In this paper, we report the development of piston materials by reinforcing discarded aluminum pistons with zirconium diboride and snailshells. Discarded motorcycle pistons were collected from Ogbomoso Nigeria, melted and then reinforced with zirconium diboride and snailshells at varying proportions based on D-Optimal approach of Design of Experiment. The ingots were then re-cast, machined to standard shapes and characterized for hardness, tensile strength, wear, composition, corrosion rate, fatigue, impact strength among others. These properties were optimized, and the corresponding ingot was further characterized. 75 wt. % aluminum alloy, 15 wt. % zirconium diboride and 10 wt. % snailshells gave the optimal properties with tensile strength, hardness and Young modulus of 148.08 MPa, 99.29 MPa and 18.54 GPa, respectively compared to 47.48 MPa, 78.41 MPa and 9.80 GPa obtained for new aluminum pistons. The wear rate of aluminum alloy reinforced with zirconium diboride and snailshells was 0.021 mm3/Nm compared to 0.57 mm3/Nm for new piston. This study has shown that addition of zirconium and snailshells can significantly improve mechanical properties of aluminum.