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The high temperature tribological

performance of turbocharger wastegate


materials
a

M Burkinshaw , D Blacker
a
Materials Engineering, Cummins Turbo Technologies, UK
b
Advanced Engineering, Cummins Turbo Technologies, UK

Abstract
The high temperature tribological interface between shaft and bush in a turbocharger wastegate
has been investigated using a pin-on-plate reciprocating tribometer, which was operating at 600
C, 850 C and 950 C. Contact pressure, sliding distance and speed were kept constant
throughout testing. A wide range of shaft and bush materials were evaluated for their suitability
within the aforementioned interface, namely; cobalt-chromium alloys and a wide range of
austenitic, martensitic and sintered powder metal alloy steels. Materials selected for use within
the interface had to possess adequate friction and wear performance whilst in operation. The
wear performance of the evaluated material combinations have been determined and related to
the topography and chemistry of the new and worn surfaces in order to ascertain the
fundamental wear behaviour of the alloys under investigation. Wear models for the various
material combinations have been proposed and related to those experienced by the wastegate
whilst in operation.

1. Introduction
Turbocharging is a fundamental technique employed by engine manufacturers in order to
minimise emissions, maximise power and reduce fuel consumption of the internal combustion
(IC) engine. Since turbocharging is used in conjunction with diesel, gasoline and natural gas
engines, the maximum exhaust gas temperature experienced by the turbocharger turbine
housing can vary significantly.
In order to ensure high levels of reliability and durability of the turbocharger, it is important to
characterise the tribological performance of particular components. The shaft / bush interface is
a critical tribosystem within the turbocharger wastegate, itself a fundamental component within
modern turbomachines. Since the interface of interest resides within the turbine housing of the
turbocharger, temperatures exceeding 600 C are experienced by the tribosystem. Therefore, it
is imperative that the material combination for the shaft / bush tribosystem is extensively
characterised in order to afford sufficient confidence while in operation.
Traditionally, bushings and shafts in modern turbomachinery wastegates have been produced
from stainless steel or cobalt-based alloys, in order to afford sufficient wear behaviour and
performance for the interface. The latter material is selected due to excellent strength, corrosion
and tribological performance (1) over a wide temperature range. However, the price of such
materials is prohibitive for employment within cost-sensitive applications and therefore,
alternative lower cost alloys are under consideration (2; 3).
The intention of this article is to present the methods by which materials intended for use within
the wastegate system of a turbocharger are characterised using a tribometer and associated
surface characterisation techniques. The high temperature tribological performance of a range
of austenitic, martensitic and sintered powder metal alloy steels have been presented. High
magnification topographical images of substrates were obtained using Scanning Electron
Microscopy (SEM). Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy (SIMS) was used to determine the
tribochemistry of worn substrates. Wear behaviour and results are compared and related to
those which would be experienced by a wastegate in operation.

2. Experimental
2.1. The turbocharger wastegate shaft / bush interface
Figure 1 is a computer aided design model of a typical turbocharger wastegate, including the
valve, shaft and bush. The latter is fixed in position within the turbine housing of the
turbocharger and the shaft rotates within the bush about a given arc length.

Figure 1: Typical wastegate shaft / bush


2.2. Materials
Numerous high temperature materials were evaluated; these are listed in Table 1.

Material Combination
A
B
C
D

Table 1: Test substrates


Pin / Disc
1 (austenitic stainless steel) / 2 (martensitic stainless steel)
3 (cobalt alloy) / 4 (cobalt alloy)
5 (austenitic stainless steel) / 6 (intermetallic stainless steel)
7 (nickel superalloy) / 8 (sintered powder metal stainless steel)

Disc samples were machined with 35.0 mm diameter, 10.0 mm depth. Pins were manufactured
with dimensions 10.0 mm diameter, 30.0 mm length and 37.5 mm radius of curvature on the
end of the pin. All substrates were used in as-received form without heat treatment, with a
surface roughness value of 0.2 m Ra.
2.3. Methods
Since the turbocharger wastegate shaft / bush interface operates through rotary motion over a
short arc length, it thereby induces a top and bottom dead centre onto the wear scar. Therefore,
this type of interface can be successfully simulated using a pin-on-plate tribosystem, although
with careful consideration of external factors which may affect the correlation performance
between tribometer and real-world tests.
Tribological evaluation of the test materials was conducted using a Bruker UMT-3 high
temperature pin-on-reciprocating plate / disc tribometer, with the pin representing the shaft and
the disc simulating the bush. The contact conditions (Table 2) for the tribometer were designed
to replicate those experienced by a wastegate in a Cummins Turbo Technologies D6
turbocharger.
The peak contact stress for the shaft / bush interface was calculated using equation Equation 14 (4), with P determined using a free body diagram of the reaction force of the shaft in the bush.
P
a2
Equation 1 (4)

(c )max = 1.5

= 0.7213 ( )
Equation 2 (4)
P = Force per unit length

1 2
1 + 2
Equation 3 (4)
=

1 12 1 22
+
1
2
Equation 4 (4)

1, 2 = Poissons ratio bush & shaft


E1, E2 = Youngs Modulus bush & shaft
D1 = Bush inner diameter
D2 = Shaft outer diameter
By considering a typical angular rotation of the wastegate shaft of 15 degrees and a shaft
diameter of 10 mm, the relative bush / shaft displacement was determined. The tribometer
frequency of reciprocation and time duration of test were established by assuming the
wastegate performed 216 k cycles, which afforded sufficient comparison between the
tribological performance of material pairs. The aforementioned number of cycles would equate
to 54 k miles on engine, should the valve open four times per mile. The effect of exhaust gas
pulsation was considered negligible for the purpose of the testing reported here.
The maximum predicted contact stress for the shaft / bush interface was replicated for the pinon-plate tribosystem using an applied load of 4 N. Table 2 states the test parameters for the
tribological experiments.
Table 2: Tribological test parameters
Parameter
Value
Maximum contact pressure
180 MPa
Total stroke length
1.3 mm
Frequency
30 Hz
Operating temperatures
600 C, 850 C and 950 C
Test duration
2 Hours
2.4. Evaluation of worn substrates
High magnification images of surfaces of interest were obtained using a Philips XL30
Scanning Electron Microscope. The tribochemistry of the worn substrates was obtained using a
ToF-SIMS IV Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer. Volumetric wear data was obtained from three

repeats per material combination using an Alicona InfiniteFocus confocal microscope, which
had a lateral and vertical resolution of 2.2 m and 410 nm, respectively.
3. Results
3.1. Volumetric wear data
Combination A possessed the worst wear resistance at all temperatures evaluated.
Furthermore, it was not possible to accurately measure the wear volume for this material
combination at 950 C because of an excessive oxide formation rate. The cobalt-based material
combination B possessed the greatest wear resistance of all four material pairs at all testing
temperatures, except at 600 C for the pin. The wear resistance of combination D was superior
to combination C at 600 C, 850 C and 950 C.

Figure 2: Wear volumes measured on (A) pins and (B) discs


3.2. SEM images of worn plates
3.2.1. 600C
The wear scar induced into materials 2, 4, 6 and 8 are shown in Figure 3. The wear scar
generated in material 2 appeared extremely course and multiple abrasive wear tracks were
evident throughout. In contrast, the wear scars observed on materials 4 and 8 appeared
smooth, with the latter containing a number of raised sections inside the wear scar. The wear

scar of material 6 appeared uneven and contained a number of pores. There were regions
within the wear scars of materials 6 and 8 which appeared to be indicative of material removal.

Figure 3: 200x magnification SEM images of the wear scar on substrates which have
been subject to tribological testing at 600C. Red arrow indicates sliding direction.
3.2.2. 850C
As can be observed in Figure 4, at 850 C, the wear scar generated in material 2 was uneven
and appeared to contain wear debris throughout. This was in stark contrast to materials 4, 6 &
8, in which a topographically smooth surface was generated post-test.

Figure 4: 200x magnification SEM images of the wear scar on substrates which have
been subject to tribological testing at 850C. Red arrow indicates sliding direction.
3.2.3. 950C
Non-uniform dimensioned oxide particles were observed in the wear scar of material 2 when
operating at 950 C, as shown in Figure 5. The worn region in material 4 possessed a smooth
appearance. The wear scar regions of materials 6 and 8 were relatively smooth, but also nonuniform in height distribution. In addition, there was a definable lay to the wear scar of material
8.

Figure 5: 200x magnification SEM images of the wear scar on substrates which have
been subject to tribological testing at 950C. Red arrow indicates sliding direction.
3.3. Chemical nature of worn substrates
3.3.1.
SIMS
Chemical images of worn substrates were obtained using secondary ion mass spectrometry.
This technique afforded direct comparison of the chemistry of regions inside and outside the
wear scar. Figure 6 shows a typical series of images obtained from the cobalt-based material
pair, combination B.

Figure 6: Typical chemical images for Co and Cr obtained using ToF-SIMS. Total ion
count is listed as TC. Ion intensity is represented by the scale on the images. A & B are
obtained from material 3 (pin) and C & D from material 4 (disc).
The main elements and oxides identified within the wear scar on both pin and disc are stated in
Table 3.

Material
Combination
A

Table 3: Chemical composition of wear scars


Pin Disc
Pin / Disc
Elements of
Elements of
Interest
Interest
1 (austenitic stainless
Cr, Fe, Mn, Ni,
Cr, Fe, Mn, O,
steel) / 2 (martensitic
O, CrO2, FeO2,
CrO2, FeO2,

stainless steel)

MnO2

3 (cobalt alloy) / 4 (cobalt


alloy)

Co, Cr, O,
CrO2, CoO

5 (austenitic stainless
steel) / 6 (intermetallic
stainless steel)
7 (nickel superalloy) / 8
(sintered powder metal
alloy steel)

Cr, Fe, Mn, O,


CrO2, FeO2,
MnO2

MnO2
Co, Cr, Mo, O,
CrO2, CoO,
MnO2
Cr, Fe, Mn, O,
CrO2, FeO2,
MnO2

Cr, Fe, Ni, O,


CrO2, FeO2

Fe, Ni, O,
CrO2, FeO2

4. Discussion
4.1. Tribological performance of test substrates
Referring to section 3 of this article, it is apparent that the wear performance of the material
pairs evaluated in this article at both 850 C and 950 C can be classified in the following order,
from best to worst performing:
1.
2.
3.
4.

Cobalt-based super alloy pair (combination B)


Nickel super alloy / stainless steel ( combination D)
Stainless steel pair (combination C)
Stainless steel pair (combination A)

The wear protective afforded by cobalt-based alloys is well reported in literature (1; 5) and it has
been reported that nickel-based alloys possess inferior wear protection compared to their
cobalt-based counterparts (6; 3). Interestingly, referring to section 3.3.1., the high concentration
of Fe and FeO2 on the nickel-based pin is evidence that material transfer from disc to pin
occurred with material combination D. It can therefore be inferred that such behaviour
influenced the wear performance afforded by this material combination. Indeed, further work will
be required to define whether the observed material transfer reduced wear in the interface
through steel / steel rather than steel / nickel alloy interaction.
Referring to section 3, it is apparent that the wear experienced by material combinations A, B
and C are predominantly of the abrasive type. However, due to the evidence of material transfer
with material combination D, it is hypothesised that adhesion also contributed to the wear
behaviour in this interface.
As stated by Inman et al., (7), effective high temperature wear materials must retain strength
and hardness when at temperature and the results presented here agree with this statement.
Indeed, it is apparent that the materials with the greatest yield strength (Table 4) possessed the
greatest wear resistance. In contrast, the stainless steel material pair C possessed considerably
lower yield strengths at 850 C, which were in the order of 200 MPa, with material combination
A possessing the lowest yield strength of all substrates evaluated at 90 MPa.
Table 4: Material yield strength at 850 C
Material
Yield Strength (MPa)
3
270
4
620
7
680
8
400
The slight deviation from the rule is material pair D, which despite possessing the greatest
strength, only provided the second greatest wear response. Therefore, it is apparent wear
resistance is not dependent entirely on strength and additional factors may be contributing to
wear performance.
One such factor is the formation and stability of generated oxide layers. Referring to the
condition of material combination A post test, the oxide layer which was generated was
topographically rough and became increasingly unstable with increasing temperature. It was

noted by the current authors that all other material pairs generated a more stable and smooth
oxide layer post-test at all testing temperatures, compared to material combination A.
It is clear therefore that both high strength and oxide layer stability are desirable characteristics
of a high temperature wear resistant material pair. An additional factor that contributes to the
wear resistance is glaze formation and the chemistry of the oxide layer which is considered in
the following section.
4.2. Glaze formation and the effect on wear performance
The ideal scenario for a high temperature tribological contact would be the generation of a
glaze, a composite layer generated from oxidised wear debris (8), on the contacting surfaces.
Frequency of reciprocation, normal load, and operating temperature are fundamental
parameters with regards to glaze formation for a particular alloy (9). Glaze formation occurs
through a complicated process of wear, oxidation and mechanical mixing (8; 10) and
subsequently improves tribological performance of a given interface (8; 10).
Referring to Wood et al., (10) it would appear that the wear scar generated on material 4 shown
in Figure 4 and Figure 5 closely resembles glaze formation on similar cobalt based alloys.
Furthermore, the glaze generated on the cobalt-based materials was chemically similar to that
identified by Wood et al, (10). Further work is required to determine the chemistry of the glaze
through depth profiling.
Referring to the topography of the glaze generated on the cobalt based material in Figure 4 and
that reported on numerous materials (10; 9; 11; 12), it is suggested by the current authors that
glaze formation has also occurred on materials 6 and 8 at 850 C and 950 C.
Therefore, it is imperative that material combinations are selected for their ability to generate
successful glaze layers which ensure a sustainable wear rate and frictional response in the
tribosystem over the useful life of the component of interest.
4.3.

Tribometer testing as a simulation for wastegate wear behaviour

To provide a baseline by which comparisons can be made to tribometer test samples,


wastegate shaft and bush components produced from material combination A were sourced.
These substrates were retrieved from a Cummins Turbo Technologies D6 turbocharger which
had operated on engine for 137 k miles with a maximum operating temperature of
approximately 650 C.
It was determined that similar wear characteristics, including wear scar depth and topography to
samples obtained from tribometer testing, were observed on field return parts. Therefore, this is
justification to suggest that the research and methodology reported here provides a cheap,
high-efficiency tool to characterise high temperature tribological materials for wastegate
applications and identify wear mechanisms and oxide / glaze layer formation.
Further testing and analysis is required in order to provide additional data points for correlation,
in terms of wear rate and the chemistry of the wear scar on both substrates. Such additional
information will increase confidence with regards to tribometer-based testing and provide further
evidence that simulated wastegate testing can accurately and reliably determine the tribological
performance of material combinations for a given wastegate application. The current authors
are of the opinion that that tribometer-based testing can remove the need for particular
functional tests, which would improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of product development
processes.
Referring to the wear behaviour of the four material combinations, it is hypothesised that
excessive oxide formation, as experienced with material combination A at 950 C, could
potentially reduce the clearance between shaft and bush whilst in operation. However, more
stable alloys such as combinations B & D should not suffer such issues. The adhesive wear
behaviour of the latter combination needs to be further investigated to ensure that this does not
impact the durability of components whilst in operation.

One item of interest for the current authors is the behaviour of wear debris produced through
sliding in both the pin-on-disc and shaft / bush interfaces, since the former testing technique
may permit a greater rate of debris removal compared to the latter. Variation in wear debris
behaviour may affect tribochemistry, glaze formation and wear protection. It is anticipated that
further research in to this topic will improve the correlation of simulated and application testing.
5. Conclusions
A wastegate shaft / bush interface has been successfully simulated using tribometer-based
experiments, which were performed at 600 C, 850 C and 950 C. Contact conditions were
derived from a production turbocharger.
All material combinations evaluated in this research provided significantly greater wear
resistance than material combination A at all testing temperatures. Superior wear performance
was afforded by combination B, which was compiled of two cobalt-based alloys. There was a
strong correlation of material yield strength to tribological performance, with further wear
protection afforded by the generation of stable glaze layers within the wear scars on tested
substrates. Material transfer from steel to nickel-based alloy was observed with material
combination D.
Further work is envisaged in order to understand the effect of wear debris on glaze formation
and tribological performance. Additional work is also required to generate further evidence for
the correlation accuracy and reliability between tribometer-based and application testing of
wastegate materials.
6. Acknowledgements
Further thanks are given to David Scurr from The University of Nottingham for obtaining the
SIMS data and Leigh Fleming from Huddersfield University for volumetric wear analysis.
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