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Physical processing of molten light alloys under the influence of external fields

Final Report Summary - EXOMET (Physical processing of molten light alloys under the influence of external fields)

Executive Summary:
The ExoMet project revolved around innovative liquid-metal engineering and the application of external physical fields in order to significantly influence the microstructures and properties of aluminium- and magnesium-based materials. Three types of external fields were explored: electromagnetic (EM), ultrasonic (US), and intensive liquid shearing (LS).
To meet the future European challenges of light-weighting and pollution reduction, especially relevant in transportation, it is necessary to improve the castability of these light alloys, to enhance grain and eutectic refinement in monolithic alloys, and to develop new high-strength composites (so-called metal-matrix nanocomposites, or MMNCs), using nanoparticles which have only recently become available. Significant mechanical-property improvements are foreseen, including 50% increases in tensile strength and ductility, as well as in creep resistance up to 300–350 °C (currently limited to about 200 °C). This applies to both shape castings and wrought products. Manufacturing scale-up was also tackled in ExoMet, using a variety of techniques. The application of external fields to these industrial techniques is novel and would bring about major savings in energy, scrap and processing cost. The final stage of the project was on prototyping and the assessment of industrial applications in (1) automotive powertrain and chassis, (2) aircraft and aero-engine structures, (3) space satellite and rockets, and (4) high-strength high-conductivity aluminium electrical cabling. Computer modelling, rig-testing, standardisation, life-cycle analysis and patenting were also undertaken.