Widely studied in the 1980s, the insulation of pistons in engines aimed at reducing the heat losses and thus increasing the indicated efficiency. However, those studies stopped in the beginning of the 1990s due to NOx emission legislation, and also due to acceptable oil prices. Nowadays, with the improvement of exhaust after treatment systems (Diesel Particulate Filter, Selective Catalytic Reduction, and Diesel Oxidation Catalyst) and engine technologies (Exhaust Gas Recirculation), there are more trade-offs for NOx reduction. Besides, the fast rise of the oil prices tends to come back to insulation technologies in order to save fuel. This paper deals with the realization of a 1 mm thick plasma sprayed thermal barrier coating with a graded transition between the topcoat and the bondcoat on top of a serial piston for heavy-duty truck engines (11L displacement – Exhaust Gas recirculation – Single Stage Turbocharger with Variable Geometry Turbine and intercooler). The effects of the insulated pistons on the engine performance are also discussed.

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