Heat management is key in Motorsport, Track days and Automotive & motorcycle design. There are many ways to do this and many areas that Heat Management can be used to improve a vehicle as well as maintaining and maximising its performance whilst staying reliable. Below shows an overview of some ways heat management can increase the life of your components.
Heat is vital in some components in order for them to work as intended, for example, the engine, gearbox and brakes, though apply too much heat to these components and performance losses or permanent damage can be made.
High temperature can cause a large percentage of power losses which are otherwise unexplainable. These are basic areas that can make a huge difference in the way the car behaves. The temperatures can be controlled through a variety of key aerodynamic tweaks to ducting and bodywork, to the clever use of Thermal management products.
How can overheating affect your car?
An engine is designed to work within a certain temperature range, exceed this and expensive and irreversible damage can be made to the internal components. By keeping excessive heat away from some components can increase the lifespan as well as maybe even increasing their performance.
More modern cars rely heavily on electronic controlling – this means that wiring harnesses, ECUs and sensors are usually well protected from the elements, a failing sensor could cause the vehicle to behave erratically or cause further internal damage.
Turbo’d vehicles suffer from high temperatures of boosted air being sucked into the engine. Engines work at their optimal with a low intake temperature, this creates a bigger combustion and therefore more power. Though most vehicles equipped with a turbo also have an intercooler/charge cooler fitted, it is still vital to keep all temperatures around these components and pipework down.
As with engines, brake systems use an optimal window in which they work at their best. Should this window be exceeded then the brakes may not work to their full potential or may even fail completely during a braking phase – this potentially could be very dangerous.
Should we split the hydraulic braking system into elements you will most probably find:
– A master cylinder
– Brake Lines
The first two of these components are most affected by heat being passed onto them by other hot items such as exhaust systems, turbos and even the brake calipers themselves. So whilst it is important to allow the hot fluid inside to cool, it is also a good idea to keep some key areas shielded from hotter components that may effectively over boil the brake fluid and so provide no braking performance.
The last of the three components above is generally a component that dissipates excessive heat and requires cooling in order to keep the materials working at their full potential. The cooling can be done by using trick air ductwork. On the other side of the coin, the output components of the braking system dissipate their heat onto the surrounding components such as wheel speed sensors, brake lines and drive shafts. This is a good place to use thermal protection products in order to preserve the life of them, otherwise, electronic, mechanical or braking failures could occur.
These temperature management devices use the flow of air to cool down the internal passing fluids/gases, this (now warmer) air has to be expelled efficiently, being sure not to use it to target air outwards of the bay.. Please note, it can become dangerous or inefficient if the wasted airflow is not managed correctly
Ways of improving heat management
This is a great product that comes in two forms, Gold and Silver. Both reflect heat away from components in order to preserve their performance characteristics. See left-hand photo, this shows a Carbon Fibre airbox off of a heavily turbo’d Single Seater Racecar. Since space is tight in a car like this, heat management is a nightmare for any development engineer. Heat comes from everywhere, the engine, the turbo, the intercoolers/radiators and the brakes. These can all reduce engine and overall vehicle performance, so it is key to try to shield this from unwanted heat. By protecting the boost and intake pipes (along with other methods shown below), the team had managed to produce the lowest intake temperature of the entire field. This, therefore, increased the internal combustion and therefore power from an otherwise identical power unit to the rest of the field. Heat reflective tape can also be used around braking components fuel tanks, bulkheads to protect from fatigue and electronic components.
Exhaust and Pipe wrap:
Under the engine bay, the exhaust will dissipate vast quantities of heat leaving anything close by vulnerable to the elements. Using heat wrap the uncontrolled dissipation can, therefore, be managed and so protecting components, making the exhaust more efficient as well as lowering engine bay temperatures.
This can be as fancy or as basic as your budget/knowledge allows. Though slightly modifying a standard set up can dramatically improve the heat exchange process. Simple things such as ensuring all gaps are sealed between bumpers and ducting, ensuring that 100% of airflow is directed towards heat exchangers and ensuring a clear route for airflow.
Other small improvements that can be made include applying a high-density foam around the rear of the duct, this will ensure a great fit with no air leaks around radiators and intercoolers.
Thank you for reading this quick guide on heat management. Please note, this is a generalised view on heat management, and we are keen to state that every vehicle varies depending on how the car is being driven, aero loads, car modification, along with the car’s overall use.
Please leave your feedback with us along with any ideas for future articles you may want to read about. Funk Motorsport urges that the reader takes the above information as guidance and should only be put into practice given the correct level of technical understanding is obtained. Funk motorsport take no responsibility for this information being used incorrectly.