Lightweight, recyclable alloys for fuel-efficient future vehicles

Experts at Greenwich University, London, are involved in a European project that could transform the future of travel and reduce pollution.

The €20m ExoMet project aims to use nanoparticle technology to build new, lightweight types of transport, including space vehicles, planes and cars, with components that are also recyclable.

It brings together 27 companies, universities and research organisations from 11 countries, in a scheme led by the European Space Agency (ESA).

Researchers will investigate the potential for replacing heavy steel in components with strengthened light alloy magnesium or aluminium at less than half the weight, leading to a reduction in fuel and CO2 emissions, as well as savings in processing costs.

By design, many of the new materials used to build these vehicles will be recyclable, ensuring sustainability of resources for the future.

Using expertise gained in a series of earlier research projects in the metals and minerals processing sector, many of which have been funded by the European Union and EPSRC, the Greenwich team will develop mathematical models of the various processes considered by the ExoMet consortium.

Prof Koulis Pericleous, director of the university’s Computational Science and Engineering research team is leading the Greenwich part of the project.

In a statement Prof Pericleous said molten metal and strengthening particles will be bombarded with electromagnetic fields and ultrasonic waves to promote an even mixture before the metal solidifies.

The models will guide experiments performed by project partners in a ‘virtual laboratory’, based on the Greenwich team’s high performance computers.

The information obtained will help researchers and industrial partners in ExoMet understand the physics behind the process and optimise the final products. 

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