The ExoMet proposal revolves around innovative liquid metal engineering and the application of external physical fields, in order to significantly influence the microstructures and properties of light alloys, such as aluminium and magnesium. Three types of external fields will be explored, namely: electromagnetic, ultrasonic and intensive mechanical shearing.
To meet the future EU challenges of lightweighting and pollution reduction, especially relevant in transportation, it is necessary to improve the castability of light alloys, to enhance grain and eutectic refinement in monolithic alloys, and to develop new high-strength nanocomposites using nano-reinforcers which have only recently become available. Significant mechanical property improvements are foreseen in ExoMet - including 50% increases in tensile strength and ductility, as well as creep resistance up to 300-350 degC (currently limited to about 200 degC in Al and Mg alloys). This applies to both shape castings and wrought products like extruded profiles, bar, cable, sheet and plate.
Manufacturing scale-up will be tackled in ExoMet, using a variety of techniques such as low and high-pressure die casting, sand casting, investment casting, differential-presssure casting, twin-roll casting, ultrasound-assisted casting and twin-shear casting. The application of external fields to these industrial techniques is novel and would bring about major savings in energy, scrap and processing cost.
Having developed the field-enabled processes and produced high-quality light alloys and nanocomposites, the next stage of ExoMet will be prototypying and the assessment of industrial applications in four selected commercial sectors: (i) automotive powertrain and chassis, (ii) aircraft and aero-engine structures, (iii) space satellite and rockets, and (iv) high-strength high-conductivity Al electrical cabling. Computer modelling, rig-testing, standardisation, life-cycle analysis and patenting will also be undertaken.
Field of science
- /engineering and technology/materials engineering/nanocomposites
Call for proposal
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Funding SchemeCP-IP - Large-scale integrating project