Brunel University London announced a second new partnership this week, this one with lightweight castings firms to develop high-performance cast aluminium alloys for use as impact protection in automobiles and trains.
The Brunel Centre for Advanced Solidification Technology (BCAST)’s partners include Sarginsons Industries, a firm that is considered among the world’s leaders in lightweight castings. As partners in the Lightweight Energy Absorbing Aluminium Structures for Transport (LEAAST) project, BCAST, Sarginsons, and nine other industrial partners will be working toward developing new 6xxx and 3xx series aluminium alloys for use in lightweight crash-management systems.
The three-year, US$2.9 million project began in the spring of 2015 and has already yielded two promising alloys that have fared well in industrial testing due to their increased strength and ductility. The new 6xxx alloy boasts a yield strength of over 72,500 psi and elongation of ten percent, while the new 3xx alloy is about a third the weight of steel and, when compared to similar aluminium alloys, has a yield strength of 45,000 psi, an ultimate tensile strength of 53,000 psi, and an elongation of ten percent. These improvements on existing aluminium alloys give them a strength-to-density ratio to absorb stress and deform due to impact in a controlled manner, which translates to an increased safety margin in the event of a collision.
“Lightweight crash management systems are of increasing importance for most forms of ground transport,” explained Anthony Evans, Managing Director at Sarginsons Industries in Coventry. “While at present many automotive original equipment manufacturers have advanced aluminium automotive body designs, they still depend on steel for bumper beams.”
“Delivering fully sustainable and high-ductility alloy is critical for providing the automotive industry with light weighting options to counter the higher-weight battery and hybrid vehicle base loads,” he went on. “The first scale-up trial has just been completed with the new casting alloy being tested in a 400 kg melt batch and controlled manufacturing conditions at Sarginsons, and the results are extremely positive. At least a 30% increase in yield strength has been achieved with the new alloy, while maintaining its high ductility.”