Benefits and application of ceramic exhaust coatings

Car tuning tips:Ceramic exhaust coatings"

Ceramic exhaust coatings Guide

Ceramic exhaust coatings are gaining popularity with performance car tuners. We will take a look at why so many people are getting ceramic coatings applied to their exhausts.

In very general terms cooler air means greater potential engine power. We can assert this because it follows that the cooler the under bonnet temperature is the cooler the air intake charge will be. Cool air carries more oxygen so allows more fuel to burned. Even in cars where cold air is fed directly from the outside of the car into the intake you will still experience a minor power loss as heat is conducted through the intake system to the intake charge.

It is also true that hot exhaust gases flow more quickly than cooler gases. Indeed a cooling of the exhaust can cause dramatic alterations to the flow characteristics of the engine.

The aim then is to trap all this heat in the exhaust at least until the pipes clear the engine bay. This has the added benefit that the catalyst gets up to temperature more quickly and start working efficiently.

Why choose ceramic then? Well ceramic is a very poor conductor of heat and is therefore a great insulator. It can be bonded to the exhaust permenantly, looks much better than a bare metal pipe and will help the exhaust to resist corrosion.

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Due to the cost involved we generally see the main exhaust headers upto the catalyst treated with a ceramic coating. While there is nothing stopping you from getting the full exhaust stystem coated we have to state that the effect diminishes the further back you go and the main point of this exercise is to lower the engine bay temperatures.

How is the ceramic coating applied? It is generally sprayed onto the exhaust in a very high temperature spray at temperatures around 11,000 celcius! This high temperature liquifies the ceramic source material and allows it to bond with the target metal surface. There are a number of patented process out there and ceramic coating certainly remains the preserve of the professional with the right equipment.

If the target surface is dirty or rusty the ceramic coating may not always bond as well as it should so we have to stress that surface preparation is key.

Drawbacks include the minor point that the engine will take slightly longer to reach operating tempeature. The extra heat within the exhaust will also reveal any weaknesses and stress points in the exhaust. Cast iron manifolds are more prone to this but we have to ask what a cast iron manifold is doing on a performance engine as stainless steel headers flow much more freely.

There is now an alternative to ceramic coatings with the arrival of ceramic wraps on the market which can be cut and wrapped around the exhaust. We would also add that heat proof paint and various other grades of exhaust wrap are also available but ceramic coating remains the most effective insulator.

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3 Responses to “Ceramic exhaust coatings”

  1. Tree says:

    I thought ceramic was a good conductor of heat (CPU glue)?

  2. admin says:

    Ceramic is a very poor conductor of heat and electricity, for this reason it is used on spark plug tips and electricity pylons.

    Thermal transfer paste under CPU tends to contain copper, silver or other highly conductive metal particles.

  3. andrew says:

    would esprit v8 be best ceramic coated, manifold is cast iron no room for much else?keeping bay cooler ect over-riding cooler exhausts headers gas flow disadvantages for hot ?