Russian Federation aluminium behemoth U.C. Rusal announced yesterday that a revolutionary new scandium-aluminium alloy intended for shipbuilding has broken free of the laboratory and entered the testing phase.
According to Rusal’s scientists, the alloy, which is a unique mix of aluminium, scandium, and magnesium, was developed to meet the unique needs of the shipbuilding industry. Developed in conjunction with the Institute of Light Materials and Technologies, this new alloy uses only a third of the scandium incorporated in comparable alloys without sacrificing performance.
Rusal says the scandium alloy, which is the product of a four-year, ₽90-million (US$1.57 million) project, will be cheaper than competing alloys while still offering the strength, corrosion resistance, and welding seam strength as more expensive alloys. According to Rusal, reducing the scandium content allows for more budget-minded buyers to utilize the alloy, and in more and different applications.
Victor Mann, RUSAL’s Technical Director, said that Rusal expected significant market interest in the new alloy.
“The fact that UC RUSAL has its own raw materials and a unique production process for making scandium oxide, master alloys and aluminium scandium alloys will allow the company to bring a brand new value-added product to market, for which there may be a lot of demand across a broad range of mechanical engineering industries. According to the results of cooperation with both Russian and overseas companies, a decision will be made about whether the company should go ahead and expand its aluminium scandium semi-finished goods production capacity.”
Though testing has just begun, Rusal has applied for certification that would allow mass production and sales to begin. According to the firm, it should have certification in hand next year, opening the door for marketing and eventual sales to buyers in the automotive and aerospace industries.
Rusal says it is also working with the Institute of Light Materials and Technologies on scandium-aluminium alloys for use in additive manufacturing. Research is ongoing upon a scandium-aluminium alloy that has 2-1/2 times less scandium than comparable alloys that are currently available. The two firms are currently working to develop 3D printing processes that utilize this powder to produce finished products.