"Aluminum is the new steel": scientists have found a way to make metal stronger

One of the most promising materials for the aviation and automotive industry is aluminum. Scientists of the National research technological University "MISIS" found a simple and effective way to strengthen composite materials based on it.

By adding Nickel and lanthanum to the aluminum melt, they were able to create a material that combines the advantages of composite materials and standard alloys: flexibility, strength, lightness. On the development, which opens up new prospects in the aviation and automotive industry, published an article in the journal Materials Letters.

Lighter and faster aircraft and vehicles require lighter and lighter materials, respectively. One of the most promising is aluminum, or rather, aluminum-based composites — materials based on aluminum.

A team of scientists from the scientific school "Phase transformations and development of alloys based on non-ferrous metals" nust MISIS created a new durable aluminum-Nickel-lanthanum composite for aircraft and automotive industry. Alloying elements were added to the aluminum melt, forming chemical compounds with aluminum, which in the process of solidification of the alloy give a strong reinforcing frame.

"Our scientific group under the guidance of Professor Nikolai Belov has been working on the creation of aluminum-based composites for many years. The composite Al-Ni-La — one of these works to create a natural aluminating composite material containing in the structure a of more than 15% (by volume) of reinforcing particles.

A feature of the new development is the high reinforcing ability of the emerging chemical compounds with ultrafine structure: the diameter of the reinforcing elements does not exceed several tens of nanometers.

Previously, the researchers were limited to the study of systems in which it is obviously impossible to obtain an effective reinforcing frame, or obtained a composite material by labor-intensive methods of powder metallurgy (sintering powders), or liquid-phase technologies of mixing nanoparticles in the melt," says one of the authors of the development, researcher of the Department of metal processing pressure nust "MISIS", candidate of technical Sciences Torgom Hakobyan.

Today, aluminum reinforcement occurs mainly with the help of nanopowders, but this is an extremely expensive and time-consuming process, and the result does not always justify the resources spent. For example, with an increase in strength by only 5-20%, such an indicator as plasticity, on the contrary, can decrease by tens of percent or even several times. In addition, the particles themselves are too large — from 100 nanometers to one or two micrometers, and their number in the volume is small.

The development of nust MISIS Scientists solves the problems of uneven reinforcement and low strength of the "powder" composite: when melting, the size of the reinforcing particles after crystallization of the material based on the Al-Ni-La system does not exceed 30-70 nanometers in the cross section.

Due to the natural crystallization, the particles are distributed evenly, creating a reinforcing frame, and the composite is more durable and flexible than its "powder" counterparts.

"The composite proposed by us already bypasses analogues in many respects, including foreign ones. However, we are not going to rest on our laurels and in the future we plan to continue working on the creation of more advanced, complex (3-, 4 - and more phase) and cheap composites, the production cycle of which will include the use of aluminum of technical purity and cheaper alloying components," adds Torgom Hakobyan.

According to scientists, the proposed material can be used primarily in the field of aviation and mechanical engineering, for the design of modern robotics, including unmanned aerial vehicles, where the reduction in the mass of the drone is critical.

Due to the peculiarities of the structure formation, the proposed material can be used for the manufacture of complex parts by 3D printing. In addition, new developments may be of strategic importance from an economic point of view.

At the moment, the main share of profit in the aluminum industry in Russia is the export of primary aluminum. The creation of new high-tech developments with increased added value will increase profits by expanding domestic and foreign markets for aluminum consumption.

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