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So far andre has created 228 blog entries.

New Aluminum Alloy May Be Titanium’s Biggest Competitor

Titanium is often regarded in the manufacturing industry for its strength and weight. However, cost is always an issue when it comes to titanium, so material scientists looked to aluminum for a comparable alternative. Their solution? An iron-aluminum alloy capable of performing just as well as titanium. The only difference is that this new alloy comes at just 10% of titanium’s cost. From Gizmodo:

A team from Pohang University of Science and Technology, in South Korea have manipulated the structure of an iron-aluminum alloy to create a new kind of material that could find application in everything from bicycles to airplanes.

Steel is renowned for its strength and low price, but is very heavy. To make use of it in scenarios that demand light weight—without resorting to buying titanium—material scientists often alloy it with aluminum, which is light and also mercifully cheap. The mixture of aluminum and steel also usually includes a sprinkling of manganese to make it less brittle, but even then, the material is still usually too brittle for use in vehicles.

Now, the team from South Korea has added nickel to the mixture. The addition of this metal brings about a reaction with some of the contained aluminum, forming what are known as B2 crystals. Sitting both within the grains of steel in the alloy and at their boundaries too, the crystals—just a few nanometres in size—resist shear forces in the material. Because, ultimately, all materials fail by shear, where one layer of atoms slides across the other, taking microscopic cracks with it, increasing the resistance to shear forces increases the strength and stops the material failing by cracking.

Enough, in fact, to provide the new alloy with the same strength as titanium. The mix of steel and aluminium also provides a density similarly to that of the more expensive metal, too. The raw materials and (proposed) processing techniques also mean that the material could, when made at scale, cost just a tenth of what titanium does, too.

This new material is beginning to see mass production. If its early tests hold up, it could be one of the biggest manufacturing revolutions the metal industry has seen. Stay tuned on this one…

2017-01-26T23:37:28+00:00 February 6th, 2015|

Are Aluminum-Air Batteries The Next Big Thing In Power?

Tesla pushed the use of aluminum in cars forward with its groundbreaking (and award-winning) Model-S. However, it still used traditional lithium-ion technology to power its batteries. Aluminum may pave the way for a new advancement in electric car technology, but this time it’s in the area of power, not structure. Can a mix of aluminum and water become the battery of the near-future? From Extreme Tech:

On the one hand, breakthroughs in Li-ion designs and construction are responsible for the Tesla Model S, new installations, green energy research, and the modern smartphone. On the other hand, lithium-ion limitations are the reason why most EVs have a range of 40-60 miles, the Model S costs upwards of $80,000, and why your smartphone can’t last all day on a single charge. For all its promise and capability, lithium-ion has limited long-term utility — which is why a new announcement from Fuji Pigment is so interesting. The company is claiming that its new aluminum-air batteries can run for up to two weeks and be refilled with normal water.

That said, there are question, too. The hydrated aluminum oxide solution produced during the battery’s normal operation would need to be recycled in some fashion, it’s not clear that fresh water is as effective an aqueous solution as saltwater (meaning there might be specific need for one particular kind of solution). The final price is also unknown, though previous estimations had put the cost of an Al-air system at roughly $1.1 per kg of aluminum anode. This was not given in precise terms relative to the cost of gasoline (and the weight of the aluminum anode in these batteries is unknown), but the team that performed that analysis noted that proper recycling would put Al-air in the same cost range as conventional internal combustion engines.

Fuji Pigment has stated that it intends to commercialize this technology as early as this year, which means we could see test demonstrations and proof of concepts by 2016. Whether auto manufacturers will jump for the technology remains to be seen — car companies tend to be conservative and Tesla has already thrown its weight behind the further use of lithium-ion technology.

For a deeper look at just how this battery works on a technical level, head over to Extreme Tech and read the full article.

2015-06-18T15:33:03+00:00 January 29th, 2015|

Pride Swaps Steel For Aluminum In Industrial Vehicles

From Ford to Tesla, aluminum has become a prominent part of consumer trucks and cars now. However,

other vehicle manufacturers are now seeing the functional benefits and performance value of

aluminum. Pride Bodies, a manufacturer of service trucks and cranes, has decided to take the aluminum

plunge. From Fleet Owner:

Pride Bodies has released a new service truck body mechanics bumper that is 200 lbs. lighter due to the

use of aluminum in place of steel.

Aluminum reduces weight, fuel costs and provides a material that will withstand the ravages of salt and

liquid calcium chloride, the company said.

“Durable aluminum bodies allow our customers to consequently reduce the truck class while increasing

the payload.   With the cost of fuel and the intensity of DOT monitoring of truck weights assembling the

right combination of chassis and truck body is important in today’s economy,” said Russ Lanthier,

president.

Fuel economy is driving everything in the auto industry, and with aluminum’s consistent performance in

the consumer market, it was just a matter of time before industrial vehicles followed suit. For Pride, the

aluminum mechanics bumper may just be the start as the company weighs the possibilities of further

steel-to-aluminum conversions.

2015-06-18T15:33:03+00:00 January 22nd, 2015|

Aluminum Powers Ford To Big Award

It’s not just a groundbreaking vehicle. It’s not just a leader in design and innovation. The Ford F-150 is more than that; in fact, it’s the North American Truck Of The Year. Selected by a large panel of North American-based auto writers, the F-150 started off the year with plenty of questions but is enjoying sales and accolades along with its new aluminum frame. From USA Today:

Ford Motor’s aluminum-body 2015 F-150 pickup won the North American Truck of the Year award by topping the votes of the independent, 57-member jury of U.S. and Canadian auto writers and editors.

The Ford is first standard-duty pickup to use an aluminum body, which cuts weight for better mileage and greater towing and hauling capabilities. It also drives more nimbly than most pickups.It went on sale in November.

It was the eighth time Ford has won the truck trophy in the award’s 22-year history, and the fourth time for F-150.

Tangential to this, Ford has announced that it will focus its aluminum efforts on its truck line rather than both cars and trucks. Ford believes there are other ways to maximize fuel efficiency without an aluminum body; however, we’ll see how closely they stick to this as other auto manufacturers have done quite well with an aluminum body on their cars (hello, Tesla).

2015-06-18T15:33:03+00:00 January 15th, 2015|

Cadillac’s New Flagship Vehicle Will Have An Aluminum Body

It’s safe to say that the aluminum revolution has begun for American automakers. With the Ford F-150 rollout hitting a full stride, news has come out that Cadillac’s luxury sedan line will soon be making good use of our favorite metal. According to Automobile Magazine, the new Cadillac CT6 will feature an aluminum body when it gets unveiled in the near future.

Will the new Cadillac CT6 have the rakish, expressive styling of the Elmiraj show car, or will it be a conservative evolution of the luxury brand’s current design language? While those questions will linger probably until the CT6 is unveiled later in 2015, AUTOMOBILE has learned this about the sedan, which uses General Motors’ new Omega full-size rear-wheel-drive platform: It will have an aluminum body.

The Cadillac CT6, which will be a bit smaller than a Mercedes-Benz S-Class but larger than the midsize CTS, also will be the first to use an engine, or engines, from GM’s upcoming four-/six-/eight-cylinder family. We have learned that while a CT6 Vsport has been approved for production, there’s no word on a CT6-V yet, so some sort of turbocharged- or supercharged-six seems likely.

The aluminum body, which potentially keeps the new sedan in or close to the CTS’s 3,700-4,100-pound weight category, suggests that the CT6 is designed to aim for the Mercedes CLS-Class, BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, and Audi A7 even if its styling doesn’t classify it as a so-called four-door sport coupe.

The new CT6 is expected to be revealed at car shows during the first half of the new year. Expect a lot of hype and press, as Cadillac has already called the sedan its new flagship vehicle.

2015-06-18T15:33:03+00:00 January 5th, 2015|

Aluminum Powers New High-Speed Rail Technology

Would you speed across the rails in a train car made of aluminum foam?

Sounds like a risky proposition, but it’s actually safe, strong, and mass-efficient. All of these things make this new aluminum-based composite one of the most exciting innovations the mass transit industry has seen in years. From Wired:

Americans have long been promised high-speed rail, but to date, we’re still far behind Europe and Asia when it comes to rolling stock. Now, we have one more train technology to envy our brethren across the pond: Trains made of aluminum foam, a material that’s stronger, lighter, and better in a crash than fiberglass or regular old metal.

Engineers in Chemitz, Germany unveiled a prototype high-speed train cab made with the stuff earlier this year. The composite material is built like a sandwich: Between two pieces of aluminum, each just two millimeters thick, is a 25-millimeter-thick layer of the “foam,” actually a low-density, sponge-like composite of magnesium, silicon, and copper, and aluminum. And like a good sandwich, there’s no glue. The layers are held together by metallic bonding, the electrostatic attraction of negatively charged electrons and positively charged ions.

The result is a material that’s 20 percent lighter than traditional fiberglass, which is commonly used on high-speed train cabs. That’s a big advantage when the goal is to move faster and more efficiently. Even better, it doesn’t come at the cost of a weaker train. “The outer shell is so stiff that you need no ribs inside,” says Dr. Thomas Hipke, head of lightweight construction at the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology, which helped to design the prototype train cab. Peel tests of aluminum foam—in which force is applied to pull apart the layers of the material—destroy the foam interior instead of breaking the bonds between the layers, demonstrating the strength of the bonding.

To the layperson, the idea of 200 MPH inside of an aluminum-based tube sounds frightening. However, the science behind it is solid: it’s safer and more efficient than traditional materials, meaning that it gets the job done while being less taxing on our energy resources. Just like the Ford F-150, it’s another breakthrough innovation thanks to aluminum.

2017-01-26T23:37:28+00:00 December 23rd, 2014|

Ford Sees Recycling As Key To New F-150

It’s already well known that the Ford F-150’s body switched from steel to aluminum, but now further details are coming out regarding the actual manufacturing process. It turns out that Ford’s decided on a zero-waste system when it comes to aluminum thanks to the metal’s recycling capabilities. Not only does this result in a cost savings for the company, it helps minimize the amount of resources used and wasted during manufacturing. From the Wall Street Journal:

The 2015 F-150, perhaps the most important vehicle to hit Ford dealerships in decades, goes on sale this month. By the time a new truck exits the factory and heads for the showroom, it will have left behind $300 worth of scrap aluminum on the plant floor.

That scrap is collected, cleaned, and sent back to the aluminum plant on the same trucks that delivered it fresh—creating what Chief Executive Mark Fields calls a “closed loop” that helps offset the expense of building its best-selling vehicle with a material that is far pricier than steel.

“Every single scrap of aluminum is reused,” Mr. Fields said in an interview. “The more you can reuse or recycle, it makes it a more compelling business case.”

Every day, about 50 semi tractor-trailers drive out of Ford’s F-150 plant in Dearborn, Mich., with thousands of pounds of shredded aluminum, scrap that was stamped out of six-foot-wide aluminum rolls used to make F-150 body panels. Only 60% to 65% of a roll is actually used in the stamping process because many body panels have big holes, such as windows.

Because aluminum can be recycled almost endlessly without degradation, recycling has long played a major role in the production of everything from beer cans to jumbo jets. The twist is that Ford installed systems to separate the six different aluminum alloys it uses and return them to mills in Iowa or New York, to be turned back into aluminum sheet for delivery to its Dearborn stamping plant.

For more on the technology behind Ford’s recycling process, be sure to check out the full WSJ article.

2015-06-18T15:33:03+00:00 December 18th, 2014|

Car & Driver Gets Up Close With Aluminum

When did Ford first experiment with aluminum? What exactly is the alloy composition? How is the manufacturing process different with aluminum?

If you’ve wondered about questions like this, Car & Driver has a treat for you. They recently posted an in-depth piece to their blog highlighting many detailed facts regarding the Ford F-150 and all things aluminum. From Car & Driver:

Henry Ford’s Model T was the 20th century’s boldest automotive stroke. Like Lotus’s Colin Chapman and every other shrewd motorsports engineer, Ford—even way back when—identified weight as the enemy. Model T frames were made of steel containing vanadium for extra strength, and millions of T hoods were aluminum long before that metal entered the car-material mainstream. With only 20 horsepower under the hood, the T needed its weight to be kept below 2000 pounds to meet Ford’s ambitious performance goals. Now that 2015 Ford F-150s are finally in customer hands, inquiring minds wonder why it took a century for aluminum to leap from Model T hoods to the cabs and beds of America’s bestselling vehicle. Let’s explore that topic, shall we?

Car & Driver’s blog post is a thorough examination about the use of aluminum, from design to manufacturing to intended results. See the full piece at the Car & Driver blog.

2017-01-26T23:37:28+00:00 December 11th, 2014|

Ford Prepares To Ramp Up Aluminum-Based Production

Ford is getting ready to push the 2015 F-150 into the public’s arms. Initial models have started to trickle into dealerships, but early 2015 will see a larger-scale launch. To support this, one of the company’s biggest manufacturing plants has begun ramping up. From the Kansas City Star:

It’s been nearly a year since the 2015 F-150 made a splash with its aluminum body at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Now the time has come to get the new models into dealer showrooms. A trickle of them have started to be delivered from a Michigan plant which is ramping up, and early next year the company’s Claycomo plant will begin production.

Area Ford dealers have been fielding customer inquiries about the newest version of the F-150, which for decades has been the most popular vehicle in the U.S.

“We’re anxious and excited to get one,” said Mark Smith, president of Dick Smith Ford in Raytown, who hopes to have one or two of the 2015 F-150s by Christmas.

The launch of a revamped popular model is typically a big deal, and this time even more so. The pickup truck will have an aluminum body which is getting lots of attention since it’s a first for a mainstream vehicle.

Ford says it is ready. The truck has gone through 10 million miles of durability tests, and the military-grade aluminum is ding resistant, in keeping with the truck’s reputation for toughness. The company got some bragging rights last week when the 2015 F-150 with a 2.7 liter V-6 Ecoboost engine got a fuel economy rating that’s the best of any full-sized gasoline-powered pickup.

With the F-150 about to hit large-scale production, the next chapter in the story will be how the aluminum trickle-down effect impacts other models and manufacturers. Stay tuned, things will get really interesting once auto manufacturers see how the public reacts to the new F-150.

2015-06-18T15:33:03+00:00 December 2nd, 2014|

When Ford Met Jaguar…

Sometimes, good things come out of bad situations. Necessity is the mother of invention, or so they say. If you’re a fan of mixed metaphors, then check out this article from Automobile Magazine. The general idea is that the auto industry’s current aluminum surge came as a result of solving problems in bad situations. Or as they put it, Jaguar and Ford had a love child called aluminum.

When a relationship goes sour, it’s easy to focus on what went wrong. Surely, that has been the case with Ford and Jaguar-Land Rover. We dwell on Ford’s inability to understand European luxury and Jaguar’s inability to make money. And the X-Type. Gosh, what a terrible car. Yet even bad marriages can produce wonderful children. For Jaguar and Ford, that child was aluminum.

When Ford bought Jaguar in 1989, neither automaker had much expertise with the material. “Ford kind of went, ‘How about all this aluminum stuff?’” recalls Mark White, who joined Jaguar in 1986 and is now the automaker’s chief technical specialist for lightweight vehicle structures. Jaguar had in its misty past crafted aluminum racing cars such as the Lightweight E-Types, but these were exotic, largely hand-built affairs. Aluminum is usually joined by riveting and gluing, rather than spot welding, and it is much more difficult to stamp and form. “Most of the alloys used in Ferraris and Astons were really made by hand. It took lots of hours to get the shapes,” White says.

Starting in the mid ’90s, Jaguar and Ford engineers worked on ways to scale up aluminum production. Jaguar Land Rover and Ford slowly but surely worked through aluminum’s challenges with technologies such as self-piercing rivets and more complex castings that reduce the number of parts that need to be joined and thereby the number and variety of rivets that need to be used. Suppliers Novelis and Alcoa have developed aluminum alloys that are more malleable and bond more easily.

To read the full story behind this troubled marriage, be sure to visit Automobile Magazine’s full article. Spoiler: there won’t be any juicy TMZ-ready tidbits, despite the appearance of a love child.

2015-06-18T15:33:03+00:00 November 25th, 2014|