X-ray computed tomography (CT) has been successfully exploited in different fields as a non-destructive testing (NDT) technique to qualitatively and quantitatively inspect components. Intricate structures, such as cellular solids, require a three-dimensional characterisation, therefore X-ray CT can provide insights of the behaviour for this class of materials. TWI conducted a series of experiments to assess the behaviour of aluminium foam under mechanical and thermal load.
UK competitiveness in the aluminium sector is key to growth, investment, employment, development and the UK strategic industrial value chain. High energy prices as well as climate and environment regulations have a negative impact on the aluminium industry. A global level playing field in energy is required to ensure future competitiveness and continued investment in the UK aluminium sector.
The UK aluminium strategic value supply chain must be a driven collaboration between government and the UK aluminium industrial sector, building connectivity with a trusted UK based supply network, up and down the value chain.
This structured approach will support OEMs, Tier 1 and Tier 2 companies who need to fill the gaps in their supply chains or to support the creation of new ones. Such a facility will support the high value and technical requirements of the industrial sector, including aerospace, automotive, rail, marine, energy and medical, from conceptual design to complete process and product delivery systems, into business.
Did you know? The source of aluminium metal is an ore known as bauxite. Bauxite was originally discovered in France, but the large-scale mining of bauxite today is in semi-tropical areas – Africa, South America and Australia, for example. There is no commercial mining of bauxite in the UK.
Bauxite is a complex mixture of alumino-silicates, iron oxide, titanium dioxide and silica. Compared to other metals, both ferrous and non-ferrous, the yield of aluminium metal from ore is very high. It requires four tonnes of bauxite to produce two tonnes of aluminium oxide, from which one tonne of aluminium metal results. For some metals, such as gold or silver, one tonne of ore might yield only a few ounces of metal. Therefore, with world production totalling 65 million tonnes of aluminium metal, the industry must mine 260 million tonnes of bauxite.
TWI has developed a proprietary technique that enables the successful diffusion bonding of aluminium with the ability to achieve joint strengths comparable to the heat-treated parent material, for previously investigated grades. The technique produces an autogenous joint as no interlayers or melting point suppressants are required.
A research programme has been launched to investigate the application of the technique to different aluminium alloys and other materials.
Read more: New Aluminium Diffusion Bonding Technique
Aluminium is the third most common element in the earth’s crust – only oxygen and silicon exist in greater amounts. Because aluminium is a reactive element, it is usually found as a highly stable complex alumino-silicate instead of in metallic form. To produce aluminium metal from such a stable compound requires complex technology and large amounts of energy. The end uses of aluminium and its alloys are many and varied, but the major ones are in transport, building and construction, packaging and electrical and mechanical engineering. Aluminium’s light weight, high strength and good corrosion resistance make it the metal of choice for all commercial and industrial engineering sectors. It is also highly recyclable without degrading quality, giving it a vital role in the burgeoning circular economy.
Whatever the origin of the aluminium, its end use is growing and there is very active trading in imported and exported aluminium products, ingot and scrap.