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Materials science and engineering join forces to change the game of composites design

An EU-funded project brings together researchers from academy and industry to design composite materials for resource-efficient applications and environmentally friendly technologies.

Industrial Technologies

The CREATe-Network project is made up of three academic and three non-academic institutions in Europe as well as eight academic partners outside Europe. “The purpose of the network is to combine the expertise of academic and industrial network members in the multidisciplinary field of materials science and engineering in order to design new composite materials with superior properties and performance,” explains project coordinator Dr Flavio Soldera. A closer look at the research objectives The specific research objectives of the project were distributed among four topics. Topic 1 revolved around significantly improving the energy density of electrical double-layer capacitors by inserting metal oxides or nitrides at the nanoscale on nanostructured carbon electrodes. Topic 2 and 3 centered on the development of new metal matrix composite materials with improved tribological behaviour and improved resistance against electro erosion, respectively. Topic 4 focused on designing novel functionally graded cemented carbide composites for coated cutting tools with improved wear resistance for demanding machining applications in the aerospace and automotive industries. Final results The project developed engineering solutions with a deep understanding of underlying fundamental phenomena. “This will help optimise the use of resources and raw materials by improving the design and development stage,” adds Dr Soldera. The project’s novel solutions in the fields of energy storage, low-friction materials, electrical contacts and cutting tools have shown very promising results in performance under common operating conditions. “Prototypes were successfully developed in all the proposed research topics,” confirms Dr Soldera. The project discovered that when it comes to energy storage, new carbon-based materials show enhanced specific energy and power when compared to current materials. Additionally, he notes, the project found that “low-friction self-lubricating materials result in increased duty life by the efficient reduction of wear and improved energy efficiency by a significant reduction in friction.” The project coordinator also reports: “Electrical contacts increased reliability through efficient circuit breaking and extended duty life.” As for cutting tools, an extension of the applicability range to hard-to-machine metals was achieved. “We also demonstrated an extension of the duty life of machining tools,” notes Dr Soldera. Further to the above results, “the project has had a huge scientific impact that is evident with our publications in important journals – currently 36, as well as in the career development of the 28 young researchers that participated in secondments,” confirms Dr Soldera. Moving forward “Through the enhancement of already existing scientific cooperation and the cultivation of new ones, the participants of the network were able to find new common interests and set new cooperative research lines into motion,” explains Dr Soldera. Project participants, Saarland University, the Material Engineering Center Saarland, National University of Mar del Plata, University of Sao Paulo and Swedish company Sandvik Coromant, will continue working in the field of functionally graded composites for cutting tools. Additionally, from the work performed within the framework of CREATe-Network, a Brazilian-German cooperation project between the University of Sao Paulo and Saarland University has been started in the field of advanced characterisation of iron- and titanium-based materials. The Catholic University of Uruguay and project coordinator Saarland University have begun cooperating on characterisation of cast iron, which goes beyond the duration of the project.

Keywords

CREATe-Network, composite materials, design, engineering, cutting tools, properties and performance, academic and industrial network, materials science, energy storage

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