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Design and modelling of metal matrix composites

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - DeMoMet (Design and modelling of metal matrix composites)

Reporting period: 2018-11-01 to 2020-04-30

"Metal matrix composites (MMCs) reinforced with submicron ceramic particles have been objective of many research studies due to their excellent properties and the possibility to adequately respond to demanding operating conditions in various industries. The copper matrix composites (CuMMs) possess unique electrical and thermal conductivity, wear and corrosion resistance, and mechanical properties showing the broad potential applications in industries such as automotive, aerospace, nuclear, shipbuilding, etc. Hence, the design, investigation, and manufacturing of the CuMMs attract both researchers and engineers from various fields. Therefore, in the past decades, great attention is given to the selection of the manufacturing techniques, which will lead to the production of CuMCs with excellent (and desirable) properties. It is well known that the properties of MMCs strongly depend on the reinforcements' nature and distribution. Additionally, by manipulating the process parameters, the control on the reinforcements' distribution can be achieved. On the other hand, optimization of production parameters is usually a very time-consuming and costly process that encourages the development of computational models. The Marie Skłodowska Curie Action (MSCA) project titled ""DeMoMet: Design and modelling of metal matrix composites"" consists of experimental and computational work. The overall objectives of the DeMoMet project are to establish a computational model for the mechanical alloying process and optimizing parameters for the production of MMCs and to expand the knowledge related to relations between metal matrix composite (MMC) production parameters and their mechanical properties. The research conducted during the fellowship contributes to a better understanding of the particle behavior inside the mill as well as the influence of the milling parameters on the final material properties after the densification. All objectives, activities, and deliverables proposed in the MSCA application have been fully accomplished."
The work done during the fellowship was monitored through seven work packages (WP). The intention of experimental work (WP1) was obtaining optimal process parameters for MMCs production using the powder metallurgy technique. The mechanical alloying was performed on various systems such as Cu-Zr, Cu-Zr-B, and Cu-Ta-Ti. The optimal parameters for mechanical alloying were set to provide the best mixture of nano and microparticles. Investigation of mechanically alloyed powders (shape and size of the particles) was done using X-ray computed tomography (CT) scanning and advanced laser nanoparticle sizer. It was found that properties of mechanically alloyed MMCs powders strongly influence properties of the MMCs after densification, i.e. with increasing time of mechanical alloying, the more uniform distribution of the reinforcements arise. It should be noted that the distribution of reinforcing particles in a metal matrix strongly affects the properties of composite materials. Therefore, by controlling the distribution of reinforcing particles through the matrix, the desirable mechanical and physical properties of MMCs could be designed. These results were presented at two scientific conferences, and one journal manuscript is under preparation for submission. The computational work (WP2) aimed to develop a model for the mechanical alloying process using the discrete element method. The simulation results showed an agreement with experimental results. Up to the end of the fellowship, obtained results of the computational work were delivered at a scientific conference and journal publication with open access. The published paper is included in the DEM literature database (https://www.edemsimulation.com/papers/analysis-of-the-particle-motion-during-mechanical-alloying-using-edem-software/). Submission of a comprehensive journal manuscript, which includes overall achievements of both experimental and computational work is scheduled upon the end of the fellowship. The dissemination, exploitation, and outreach of the project results were monitor through WP4 and WP5. The MSCA fellowship allowed Fellow to attend training seminars and workshops to improve her experimental and computational skills, as well as to gain new skills such as project management, project outreach, and problem-solving. The Fellow presented project results to the society through participating in a TV show at national television, Researchers' night event, various seminars, and workshops, Open Doors event, newspapers, etc.
During the fellowship, the critical process parameters of mechanical alloying have been identified, which helped to address challenges in the establishment of an adequate computational model of attritor mill. The chosen model provides the necessary information about a mixture of the particles and interaction between them. Modelling and simulation of the mechanical alloying were reported for the first time. The established model and generated results show the behavior of particles inside the attritor mill and their complex interactions, which effectively decrease the time spent on the preparation and selection of the process parameters of the mechanical alloying and profoundly accelerate performing the experimental tasks. Further, the simulations could be performed with various particles, not only metals. Additionally, the novel testing protocol for CT scanning of powder samples was developed. The metal powders were inserted in a transparent matrix and homogenized to prevent particle agglomeration. This approach enables observation of each particle and could be applied in many research fields where single-particle observation is necessary. Moreover, the same approach for sample preparation was used for preparing samples for micro- and nano- indentation measurements. This novel approach could contribute to solving many engineering problems dealing with powder materials.
Attending the conferences, seminars and workshops helped Fellow to expand her scientific network within the experts in the field of material sciences. The knowledge transfer through seminars and meetings between researchers from the host institution and the Fellow strengthen the research and innovation capacity of the host institution. Networking with researchers from different fields rose the possibilities for future interdisciplinary collaborative studies, primarily with researchers from the field of mathematics. This MSCA fellowship allowed the Fellow to delivered many public engagement activities to communicate project findings, to popularize science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), as well as promoting female researchers in STEM fields.
Researchers' night event
Project logo
MCAA Bulgarian Chapter conference
IICT Open Doors event