Rusal awards research finance to aluminium transport projects
A joint committee of UC Rusal, the International Aluminium Institute (IAI) and independent expert Professor Thomas Graedel of Yale University has selected three promising research projects to receive funding to explore and test creative ideas in 2009 as part of Rusal's Global Technology and Innovation Research Project.
The three-year project is a programme designed to involve leading universities and research centres in the identification of innovative and sustainable applications for aluminium products.
In June 2008, UC Rusal and IAI issued a tender to the world’s leading universities and research centres, asking them to submit innovative ideas for new applications of aluminium in transportation, the main research topic for 2008. The tender was sent to over 100 universities in 15 counties.
Today, transportation accounts for 19% of all greenhouse gas emissions, the single largest cause of such emissions.
The winners include the use of aluminium to store hydrogen in transport, submitted by Curtin University, Australia; a new cost-effective aluminium alloy for the automotive industry submitted by Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys, Russia; and woven structures from aluminium fibres, submitted by Nizhny Novgorod State Technical University, Russia.
The objective of the Curtin University project is to undertake the research required for aluminium to be used as a material for storing hydrogen. If successful, one of the biggest drawbacks to implementing the hydrogen economy will be solved.
Preliminary experiments carried out by the research team at Curtin University have shown that AlH3 nanoparticles encased in a salt can be synthesised using the mechanochemical technique and further research is ongoing to optimise this method.
Researchers within the team have recently discovered a method for washing the salt so that pure alane nanoparticles remain. Further research is required to optimise this method for optimum hydrogen storage with the aim of producing an off-board and on-board hydrogen storage material.
The practical use of the proposed technology will enable the development of hydrogen fuelled cars, which will reduce transport impacts on the environment and contribute to mitigating the causes of climate change. The research will take three years. Rusal's contribution to the project is $180k.
Development of a high-tech and thermally stable wrought aluminium alloy based on the Al-Cu-Mn-Zr system is proposed by the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys. The industrial use of the proposed alloy in transport vehicles and cargo transporters, instead of the currently popularly used 6xxx series alloys, will provide higher productivity due to the reduction of the process cycle used in production of wrought semi-finished products for automotives.
Today, most of the aluminium products and parts used in the automotive industry use aluminium alloy from the 6xxx series, which requires a complicated and energy-intensive preparation process.
The proposed alloy will not need the homogenisation (for ingots) process and the thermal hardening (semi-finished products) process, thus providing significant energy savings and enabling reductions in harmful emissions during the production of aluminium products and applications for the automotive industry. The research will take two years with an estimated project budget of $160k.
The woven structures from aluminium fibres project will research the development of technology for creating 3D 'knitted' composite structures based on aluminium fibre.
n contrast to today's carbon composites this metallic process will enable alloys to significantly increase shear resistance and reduces the overall structural weight of parts used in the automotive industry.
The energy required for manufacturing the proposed metal composite is ten times less than that of an item produced using traditional methods. This is due to the fact that energy is spent on the manipulation of metal instead of melting.
The proposed technology will enable the manufacture of defect-free, strong, and light metal composite structures needed in transport vehicles, thus providing fuel economy and reducing green gas emissions. The research will take three years with an overall budget of $500k.
Financing for the winning projects will be provided in 2009 and Rusal expects to receive first prototypes during the next two years.