By Pam Peralta
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Additional resources for Fuel Efficiency in Transportation
With forged crankshafts, vanadium microalloyed steels are mostly used as these steels can be air cooled after reaching high strengths without additional heat treatment, with exception to the surface hardening of the bearing surfaces. The low alloy content also makes the material cheaper than high alloy steels. Carbon steels are also used, but these require additional heat treatment to reach the desired properties. Iron crankshafts are today mostly found in cheaper production engines (such as those found in the Ford Focus diesel engines) where the loads are lower.
The same engine, however, can be made to provide evenly spaced power pulses by using a crankshaft with an individual crank throw for each cylinder, spaced so that the pistons are actually phased 120° apart, as in the GM 3800 engine. While production V8 engines use four crank throws spaced 90° apart, high-performance V8 engines often use a "flat" crankshaft with throws spaced 180° apart. The difference can be heard as the flat-plane crankshafts result in the engine having a smoother, higher-pitched sound than cross-plane (for example, IRL IndyCar Series compared to NASCAR Nextel Cup, or a Ferrari 355 compared to a Chevrolet Corvette).
The sound generated by a reciprocating engine can be intolerable and as a result, many reciprocating engines rely on heavy noise suppression equipment to diminish droning and loudness. To transmit the energy of the piston to the crank, the piston is connected to a connecting rod which is in turn connected to the crank. Because the linear movement of the piston must be converted to a rotational movement of the crank, mechanical loss is experienced as a consequence. Overall, this leads to a decrease in the overall efficiency of the combustion process.
Fuel Efficiency in Transportation by Pam Peralta