The global titanium metal market is expected to be worth $1.8 billion by 2023, growing at a Compound annual growth rate of 6.2 percent, according to a report by Market Research Future. Titanium is an incredibly strong and lightweight metal with properties of corrosion resistance, high strength and durability. Titanium has been in high demand in the aerospace sector for the past few decades, but what is expected to contribute most to its growth in the coming years is the rising demand for the metal in the automotive industry. However, due to the current high cost of the titanium, its use has been limited to racing cars, and the speed-loving NASCAR world has embraced the metal with both arms. From the engine to the body, here are some of the ways titanium is being used to improve the modern NASCAR car design.
Making engine parts
NASCAR engineers are always looking for ways to make their engines better than their competitors, and titanium has proven to be up to the task, especially when it comes to protecting against extreme heat. The temperature inside a NASCAR engine can go as high as 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is not only a threat to the engine, but can also make it really uncomfortable for the driver, especially during hot summer race days. To prevent melting and engine damage, some parts exposed to the extreme heat, such as the valves, are made of titanium, as it is highly heat resistant and has a much higher strength-to-weight ratio than any other metal. However, due to the complexity of NASCAR engines, not all titanium grades can be used. Grade 1 titanium is the material of choice for engine parts due to its ease of formability and its wide availability as plate and tubing.
When it comes to driver safety, one of the requirements for NASCAR cars is a strong safety cage. A safety cage is a multi-tubular structure that’s installed in the cockpit of a NASCAR car and fitted close to its bodyshell to provide adequate protection for the driver should the car get into an accident. The main reason why titanium is an attractive metal for making NASCAR safety cages is its lightweight nature compared to steel. A standard steel safety cage weighs more than 50kgs; with direct substitution of steel with titanium, NASCAR teams are achieving an immediate weight reduction of 40-50 percent, which can go a long way in improving race results. Titanium also has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than steel, which makes it better at reducing the deformation of the chassis in case of an impact.
Titanium makes a great exhaust material for NASCAR cars for various reasons. First, titanium is 45 percent lighter than steel, which makes it highly treasured in the NASCAR racing community, where even an ounce can make a huge difference; the reduced weight can improve the acceleration, handling, and overall performance of the car. Another reason why titanium makes a great exhaust material is its heat resistance and durability. Titanium is highly resistant to rust, stains and corrosion. It also dissipates heat more efficiently than steel, which saves it from warping under intense heat and extends its lifespan.
A lot of progress has been made towards using titanium in NASCAR cars, and engineers continue to find new, cost-effective ways to make use of titanium components to improve their cars and gain a competitive edge. With more research and innovation, the potential for NASCAR applications will keep evolving, making titanium an even more valuable alternative.