Sometimes some of the most innovative design ideas rely on concepts that are actually very, very old. History is littered with theories, materials and feats of engineering that were patented long before their time, intriguing developments that simply were not capitalized on in their era for a variety of different reasons. One technology that falls under this general heading is compacted graphite iron.
Compacted graphite iron (CGI) was developed more than 60 years ago as a high strength alternative to standard gray iron. In fact, CGI is 75 percent stronger and stiffer than traditional gray iron, and it also offers better resistance to fatigue than both aluminum and gray iron. This strong and lightweight material was used only sparingly over the decades following its discovery, with applications including high speed train brakes and commercial diesel truck engines.
In a more modern setting, CGI has found its way into the factories that produce premium luxury cars, such as those run by BMW and Audi who use the metal in a number of different engine designs. Jaguar and Hyundai have also adopted the use of CGI in several high performance applications. In the motorsports world, NASCAR has heavily adopted CGI technology, with the majority of teams using this material for their engine blocks which see some of the harshest abuse that a motor can take. Even TRD has gotten into the act, using a CGI block for its Craftsman series racing truck engine.
For half-ton truck owners, the most intriguing possibilities offered by compacted graphite iron relate to its potential in the lightweight diesel field.