Aluminum Head Evaluation, Analysis and Durability
(AHEAD) Consortium

Worldwide fuel economy and greenhouse gas regulations are driving the need for weight reduction in automotive powertrains. Aluminum has been a common material used for many years to produce engine components, including cylinder heads, pistons and blocks. Recent trends to downsize engines have increased specific output, increasing cylinder pressures and temperatures. Current aluminum materials and component designs are being pushed to their fatigue and transient response limits.

To achieve further weight reduction and increase durability, the technologies used to design and produce these parts will need to improve. Southwest Research Institute is forming a consortium of companies involved in the production of aluminum powertrain components to pool resources and improve state-of-the-art aluminum component technologies. The four-year consortium is known as AHEAD (Aluminum Head Evaluation, Analysis and Durability).

Initially the focus will be on aluminum cylinder heads used for both gasoline and diesel engines. Potential technology areas of concentration include, but are not limited to advances in:

  • Aluminum alloy materials for high temperature resistance
  • Casting processes
  • Structural design
  • Analysis procedures
  • Material characterization
  • Measurement and prediction of residual stresses

SwRI has a history of more than 20 years in forming and running highly successful automotive consortia, including HEDGE (High-Efficiency Dilute Gasoline Engine), CHEDE (Clean High-Efficiency Diesel Engine) and AEF (Advanced Engine Fluids). While actual projects will be determined by the consortia voting membership, examples of projects could include:

  • Casting process simulation advancement
  • Materials characterization advancement
  • Cylinder head transient analysis
    • Temperature fields and deformation
    • Fatigue analysis
  • Role of cold shut and oxidation voids on fatigue
  • Non-destructive casting evaluation
  • Cylinder head design innovation
  • New alloy development
  • Others as identified by SwRI and/or consortium participants

AHEAD Consortium Membership and Benefits

  • Kickoff meeting planned for October 11, 2016 in San Antonio, TX
  • Four-year contract, with annual payment at the beginning of each year
  • Two membership levels
    • Full membership includes licenses to arising intellectual property upon reasonable terms and conditions, voting participation in project selection, consortium direction-setting, meeting attendance, background data and reports.
      • $100K per year
    • Associate membership includes licenses to arising intellectual property upon reasonable terms and conditions, meeting attendance and reports.
      • $60K per year
  • The impact of the annual membership is multiplied by the number of participants.
  • SwRI will aggressively pursue patent applications for technology developed during the AHEAD program.
  • SwRI may run internal research programs for projects that are not funded by the consortium. While any resulting IP will be owned by SwRI, related results may be shared with consortium members.

Related Terminology

aluminium alloys •  aluminium casting •  aluminum alloys •  aluminum casting •  analysis procedures •  CAFE •  casting processes •  casting simulation •  casting variability •  component suppliers •  crack •  cylinder heads •  diesel engine •  diesel engine technology •  durability •  engine blocks •  EPA •  failure •  fatigue •  foundries •  fuel economy •  gasoline engine •  gasoline engine technology •  gravity casting •  greenhouse gases (GHG) •  heavy-duty engine manufacturers •  inclusions •  light-duty vehicles •  lightweighting •  low pressure casting •  material characterization •  metallurgy •  motor vehicles •  oil and fuel companies •  pistons •  residual stress •  sand casting •  structural design  •  thermal •  tilt pour casting •  transient analysis • 

Benefiting government, industry and the public through innovative science and technology
Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, is a multidisciplinary, independent, nonprofit, applied engineering and physical sciences research and development organization with 10 technical divisions.