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INNOVAL

INNOVAL TECHNOLOGY LIMITED
Country: United Kingdom
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13 Projects, page 1 of 3
  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: DT/E010334/1
    Funder Contribution: 411,318 GBP

    Summary Unlike other materials for engineering applications, metals, such as aluminium and magnesium, can be recycled repeatedly without loss of their inherent properties. Recycling metals is not only economically viable, but also extremely beneficial for conservation of limited natural resources, reduction of energy consumption and waste generation, all contributing positively to a sustainable economy. One of the main barriers to the increased use of recycled light alloy scrap (both process scrap (new) and post consumer scrap (old)) is the existence of excessive levels of inclusions and impurity elements, which usually leads to downgrading into materials with poorer mechanical properties and reduced corrosion resistance. The prime objective of the proposed project is to break down this barrier and prevent market failure through the application of the step-change rheoforming technologies to allow the re-use of aluminium and magnesium alloy scrap in high-level automotive and other value added applications. The technical approach is to convert melts of recycled light alloy scrap into a semi-solid slurry using a twin screw slurry maker (TSSM) combined with a slurry accumulator and to feed this into a rheodiecaster for near net shape components, or a rheoextruder for continuous extruded profiles. Owing to the intensive forced convection in the TSSM, both inclusions and impurity elements (usually as intermetallic compounds in the solidified microstructure) will be divided into extremely fine particles and dispersed uniformly throughout the entire casting, eliminating/reducing the detrimental effects to ductility and corrosion resistance. This will result in extensive materials re-use, producing castings and extruded sections of aluminium and magnesium alloys made from selected combinations of post consumer scrap (PCS) supplied by Norton Aluminium and magnesium diecasting scrap supplied by Meridian. The mechanical performance and corrosion properties of the rheoformed products will be assessed against current production aluminium and magnesium castings and wrought products made from conventional primary metal based melts. For magnesium the emphasis of the project will be on production of rheodiecastings with a much smaller activity on wrought products, whilst for aluminium the emphasis will be both on high performance castings and on wrought products, particularly rheoextrusions. The work at BCAST will focus on the following aspects: (1) As the technology provider, BCAST team will focus on developing the rheoforming technologies, particularly the rheo-diecasting and the rheoextrusion processes, for upcycling light alloy scrap into high quality components for automotive and other general engineering applications. This will include design, commissioning and optimisation of the rheoextruder, integration of the rheoextruder with the slurry supply system. (2) The BCAST team will characterise the chemical compositions, microstructures, mechanical properties and corrosion resistance of rheoformed products produced from different scrap sources. The results will feed into the process optimisation programme as guidelines, and will also be used to understand the relationships between chemical composition, processing conditions and engineering performance. (3) The BCAST team will assist the industrial scale trials for rheoforming Al scrap at Norton Aluminium and for rheo-diecasting of magnesium scrap at Meridian. The project will develop a unique UK partnership of material producers, recyclers, technology providers and product manufacturers to develop a novel processing route for increasing the re-use and recycled content of light alloy materials by upcycling into higher-value products. Such a collaborative development will enable rapid UK commercial exploitation and will reduce dependency on imported products.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/D050839/1
    Funder Contribution: 762,028 GBP

    Magnesium (Mg) is the 8th most plentiful element in the world, comprising 2.7% of the earth's crust. Mg alloys are as light as wood, but as strong as Al-alloys. Due to the increasing environmental concerns and tightening government regulations, Mg alloys find extensive applications in the automotive industry for vehicle weight reduction to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. We have seen a 15% annual growth rate in Mg applications in the automobile industry since 1993, and it is predicted that this growth trend will continue in the first decade of the 21st century. However, Mg as an industry is still in its infancy and very much underdeveloped, especially in the sector of wrought products. Technologies for processing wrought Mg alloys are copied directly from the Al industry with little modifications and have proven to be unsuitable. The current applications of Mg in the automotive industry constitute almost 100% cast components without any significant contribution from the wrought products, which hold the key to most significant weight saving. The main barrier to the penetration of the wrought Mg alloys into the motor vehicle is their poor deformability, low productivity and high cost. Therefore, it is crucial to develop alternative processing technologies to overcome such problems.The proposed project aims to develop the rheoforming technologies, which include direct chill (DC) rheocasting for billets or slabs, rheoextrusion for extruded profiles and twin-roll rheocasting for flat products. In the rheoforming processes, semi-finished wrought Mg products are shaped in the semisolid state, somewhat similar to squeezing toothpaste. In addition, the rheoformed products have a fine and uniform microstructure, and thus can be further processed by the conventional solid deformation techniques, because fine-grained Mg-alloys can deform plastically through alternative deformation mechanisms. The rheoforming technologies in combination with the conventional technologies offer the Mg industry a complete solution to the semi-finished wrought Mg products. The specific research activities include development of the rheoforming process and equipment, demonstration of the rheoforming processes at industrial scale, understanding the fluid flow and solidification behaviour during rheoforming, evaluation of the mechanical properties of the rheoformed Mg alloys and evaluation of the deformability, productivity and production cost of the rheoformed Mg-alloys.The significance of the rheoforming technologies can be understood from the following aspects. Technologically, the rheoforming processes represent a step change in the manufacturing technology for production of lightweight automotive components. Rheoforming offers a complete technological solution to the magnesium industry and provides numerous opportunities for new applications. Scientifically, solidification under intensive forced convection opens a new dimension for solidification research. Control of alloy solidification has been traditionally achieved by chemical means (i.e., through variation of alloy composition). The rheoforming processes have successfully demonstrated that both nucleation and crystal growth can be effectively controlled by application of an intensive shear stress-strain field. This will allow the development of a theoretical framework for solidification under externally applied physical fields, which is anticipated to have profound implications to future solidification research and technological development. Commercially, rheoforming offers to the UK industry competitive edge in the global market in terms of technology advantage, improved product quality and reduced cost. The potential benefit to the UK economy is expected to be huge.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/E00573X/2
    Funder Contribution: 299,096 GBP

    Within the automotive industry there is an ever-increasing demand for the use of lightweight materials, particularly aluminium alloys, for structural components. Cold forming of aluminium alloy sheet metal components has the problems of low ductility and high springback, which are difficult to solve. Hot stamping can increase formability and reduce springback, but it destroys the desirable microstructure and the post-forming heat-treatment required to restore it would result in distortion of the formed panels during quenching after Solution Heat Treatment (SHT). To overcome the above problems, a novel process, which is called solution Heat treatment, Forming and cold-die Quenching (HFQ), for producing high strength and high precision Al-alloy sheet parts, has been the subject of some preliminary tests by the principal investigator. From the initial investigation, it has been concluded that HFQ could be an excellent process to produce high strength, high precision heat-treatable Al-alloy sheet components and to increase the formability of leaner composition non-heat-treatable alloys. Thus this project aims to establish the basic science and process window in order to predict suitable alloy and die combinations to successfully implement the process, in the first instance, into the automotive industry.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/E00573X/1
    Funder Contribution: 400,573 GBP

    Within the automotive industry there is an ever-increasing demand for the use of lightweight materials, particularly aluminium alloys, for structural components. Cold forming of aluminium alloy sheet metal components has the problems of low ductility and high springback, which are difficult to solve. Hot stamping can increase formability and reduce springback, but it destroys the desirable microstructure and the post-forming heat-treatment required to restore it would result in distortion of the formed panels during quenching after Solution Heat Treatment (SHT). To overcome the above problems, a novel process, which is called solution Heat treatment, Forming and cold-die Quenching (HFQ), for producing high strength and high precision Al-alloy sheet parts, has been the subject of some preliminary tests by the principal investigator. From the initial investigation, it has been concluded that HFQ could be an excellent process to produce high strength, high precision heat-treatable Al-alloy sheet components and to increase the formability of leaner composition non-heat-treatable alloys. Thus this project aims to establish the basic science and process window in order to predict suitable alloy and die combinations to successfully implement the process, in the first instance, into the automotive industry.

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  • Funder: EC Project Code: 245988
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