Brunel University London announced late last week the award of £9.6 million (US$12.9 million) for a project it hosts that is dedicated to continue development of processes for production of high-strength aluminium sheet alloys.
According to the announcement, the RACEForm (Rapid Aluminium Cost-Effective Forming) project will use the grant to scale up and validate a technology developed by consortium member Impression Technologies called the Hot Form Quench (The HFQ) process. The consortium hopes to ultimately achieve a model that allows for high-production volumes of high-strength aluminium sheet alloys.
BCAST’s Director of Technology Dr. Roger Darlington elaborated upon the project and its benefits.
“The HFQ process involves forming a heated aluminium sheet and then quenching it when it’s being pressed into the required shape. Scaling up this technology for high volume implementation is very exciting.
“Among the many benefits of this technology, the door that it unlocks is the potential to form very complex pressed parts using High Strength Aluminium alloys that would otherwise be infeasible. The technology also brings benefits from the elimination of component spring back during stamping, and it opens new design opportunities for vehicle designers and architects, such as slimmer structural pillars.”
In addition, the use of recycled aluminium in the process is under investigation. BCAST, which is spearheading research in this direction, says that using recycled aluminium cuts CO2 emissions by 95 percent compared to virgin aluminium.
Impression Technologies’ Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Watkins believes the technology in question has the potential for widespread acceptance and use in the aluminium industry.
“We are delighted that APC has chosen to back our HFQ Technology. We look forward to working together with the consortium members in collaboration with our OEM and aluminium partners to further develop the HFQ Technology for mass production and to establish the technology as a global industry standard.”
The project is being undertaken by a consortium led by Impression Technologies and is co-funded by Advanced Propulsion Centre UK (APC), which pledged £4.8 million (US$6.5 million) of the funding in question. Additional partners include Brunel Centre for Advanced Solidification Technology (BCAST), and Gestamp Washington UK Limited.