Design for recycling: new alloys and processes to enhance sustainable materials use and re- circulation

Increasing the recycling and recirculation of aluminum alloys offers the potential for enormous energy and carbon emission savings but is hindered by the progressive accumulation of impurities (such as Fe) in the aluminium every time the material goes through the a recycling step. The build-up of Fe and other “tramp” elements leads to the formation of new, harmful phases in the alloy – and a progressive reduction of final mechanical properties. The recirculation process always involves a melting and then a casting, or solidification, step. We are researching exactly what the harmful elements do in the solidification step. With this understanding, we aim to contrive the impurities into less harmful phases, and so make the recirculation process more "tolerant". Using X-ray imaging, we will record real-time videos of the solidification of alloys with high temporal and spatial resolution to reveal the details of solidification. We will also perform solidification experiments to investigate the role of various other elemental “neutraliser” elements, and to explore the effect of an external influence, such as ultrasound or a magnetic field, on the formation of the harmful phases.

The work will involve using national facilities such as the Diamond Light Source and the possibility of developing a new in-house imaging facility. This project is in collaboration with the EPSRC Future Manufacturing Hub - Liquid Metal Engineering.

Insitu X-ray Imaging of Solidification

Insitu X-ray Imaging of Solidification

 

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