The ExoMet project revolves around innovative liquid metal engineering and the application of external physical fields, in order to significantly influence the microstructures and properties of light alloys, such as aluminium and magnesium.
Three types of external fields are being explored, namely: electromagnetic, ultrasonic and intensive mechanical shearing
To meet the future EU challenges of light-weighting and pollution reduction, especially relevant in transportation, it is necessary to improve the cast ability of light alloys, to enhance grain and eutectic refinement in monolithic alloys, and to develop new high-strength nano-composites using nano-reinforcers which have only recently become available. Significant mechanical property improvements are foreseen in ExoMet - including 50% increases in tensile strength and ductility, as well as creep resistance up to 300-350°C (currently limited to about 200°C in Al and Mg alloys). This applies to both shape castings and wrought products like extruded profiles, bar, cable, sheet and plate.
Manufacturing scale-up will be tackled in ExoMet, using a variety of techniques such as low and high-pressure die casting, sand casting, investment casting, differential-pressure casting, twin-roll casting, ultrasound-assisted casting and twin-shear casting. The application of external fields to these industrial techniques is novel and would bring about major savings in energy, scrap and processing cost.
Having developed the field-enabled processes and produced high-quality light alloys and nano-composites, the next stage of ExoMet will be prototyping and the assessment of industrial applications in four selected commercial sectors:
- Automotive powertrain and chassis;
- Aircraft and aero-engine structures;
- Space satellite and rockets;
- High-strength high-conductivity Al electrical cabling.
- Computer modelling, rig-testing, standardisation, life-cycle analysis and patenting is also being undertaken.
EXOMET is a project co-funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission, coordinated by the European Space Agency. The area of activity of the project is FP7-NMP-2011-LARGE-4