New aluminum alloy enables heat-resistant wire for air and rail
Scientists in Russia experimenting with advanced aluminum alloys have developed a new heat-resistant form of the material that can endure far higher temperatures. Fashioned into a thin wire, the researchers see it finding use as a replacement for heavier copper materials in aircraft and rail transport, serving as a cheaper and lighter alternative.
The research was led by materials scientists at Russia's National University of Science and Technology, who were investigating alternative recipes for aluminum alloys that might boost their performance. This involved innovative annealing techniques and electromagnetic casting, which allowed them to incorporate nanoparticles that contain copper, manganese and zirconium into the material.
This material was originally cast as a billet of metal around 10 mm in diameter, which was then reduced to a thin wire. In testing, this wire proved thermally stable at temperatures of up to 400 °C (752 °F), which is a marked improvement on existing aluminum alloys that typically only remain functional up to temperatures of around 250 to 300 °C (482 to 572 °F).
“We have been able to produce a high-strength heat-resistant wire from this alloy," says study author Torgom Akopyan. "We are now determining its physical and mechanical properties, and the first results are already very impressive. We are planning to patent the method of producing this type of wire."
According to the scientists, the heat-resistant and high-performance aluminum alloy wire offers the optimal combination of strength, thermal stability and electrical conductivity. This could see it used as a lighter and cheaper replacement for expensive and heavy copper conductors used in aircraft and high-speed rail transport, and possibly in the manufacturing of wrought products semi-finished in aluminum alloys.
The research was published in the journal Materials Letters.