Development of Bulk Nanostructured Aluminium Alloys for High Strength Applications

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Materials

Abstract

The proposed research addresses the key requirements of the aerospace, defence and automotive industries for a step-change in the performance of lightweight materials for greater efficiency, reduced emissions and environmental impact. Two different categories of nanostructured aluminium alloys will be studied: bulk nanoquasicrystalline alloys and nanofibril metal-metal composites, which represent a new and exciting way of achieving elevated temperature capability and high strength in light materials. Small-scale laboratory research on these nanostructured materials has already proven extremely promising, and it is therefore timely to explore their scale-up towards commercial quantities. Moreover, a wholly novel combined nanoquasicrystalline and nanfibril alloy will be studied in order to achieve a lightweight alloy with high strength, stiffness and toughness up to 400C. The project will involve the close monitoring and control of manufacturing conditions, and the use of some of the most advanced nanocharacterisation methods available in order to develop reproducible and reliable materials for subsequent engineering evaluation.We will demonstrate the viability of the materials developed and their associated manufacturing routes for bulk manufacture by testing real engineering components in real applications. In the final year of the programme, alloy composition/process combinations will be chosen for developing demonstrator components such as pistons, inlet valves, compressor blades and plates. We have brought together a partnership between university researchers and industrial scientists from the advanced materials supply chain, in order to ensure the scientific understanding developed is exploited with maximum impact.The research will be undertaken in the Department of Materials, University of Oxford, which is the top 5** rated materials department in the UK. It has a unique combination of near industrial scale processing techniques allied with state-of-the-art characterisation facilities, and an exceptional infrastructure for technology transfer, all of which are key to the success of the project. The industrial consortium provides key resources to manufacture and test final demonstrator components.The proposed research meets the core objectives of the EPSRC Programme building on existing capabilities and expertise and focussing on the large scale processing of novel nanostructured alloys.

Publications

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Banjongprasert C (2010) Spray Forming of Bulk Ultrafine-Grained Al-Fe-Cr-Ti in Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A

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Kelly A (2011) An Al-Si-Ti hierarchical metal-metal composite manufactured by co-spray forming in Journal of Materials Processing Technology

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Pedrazzini S (2016) Strengthening mechanisms in an Al-Fe-Cr-Ti nano-quasicrystalline alloy and composites in Materials Science and Engineering: A

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Pedrazzini S (2019) High strain rate behaviour of nano-quasicrystalline Al93Fe3Cr2Ti2 alloy and composites in Materials Science and Engineering: A

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Saporiti F (2010) Short range order in Al-Fe-Nb, Al-Fe-Ce and Al-Ni-Ce metallic glasses in Journal of Alloys and Compounds

 
Description We showed that high strength alloys could be manufactured in bulk with properties as good as those produced by slower and more awkward processes. We also showed that some of the features previously thought critical to these good properties, and normally only achieved in rapid solidification processes, were not as critical as previously thought. This suggests that good properties in these alloys could be achieved more easily than usually assumed.

In a separate but related development, we also showed very preliminary results on how the low toughness of these alloys might be improved by the addition of elongated ductile phase to blunt and deflect cracks.
Exploitation Route We filed the following patent that might of interest to those concerned with high performance, lightweight alloys: Smith G., Galano M., Audebert F. and Grant, P.S., Metal Matrix Composite Material, GB0621073.6 (2006).

We have decided to discontinue the patent costs as these were becoming significant and we had not yet managed to receive any licensing incomes that were sufficient.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Transport

 
Description EPSRC
Amount £4,457,826 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/H026177/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2010 
End 09/2015
 
Description EPSRC
Amount £4,457,826 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/H026177/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2010 
End 09/2015
 
Title METAL MATRIX COMPOSITE MATERIAL 
Description A new nanocrystalline matrix alloy toughened by and ductile metallic nano-fibres 
IP Reference EP2079854 
Protection Patent granted
Year Protection Granted 2009
Licensed No
Impact In progress