|February 2007||National Research Flagship||Light Metals|
Meet the scientist: Dr Roger Lumley
Metallurgist Dr Roger Lumley truly works at the cutting-edge of light metals research. In 2006, Roger accepted a 'Future Materials' award on behalf of the Light Metals Flagship for his team's work in developing a heat-treatment process that can double the strength of complex, high-pressure die-cast aluminium automotive parts.
Long term, car manufacturers could leverage this technology to redesign components with a significantly lower weight and cost, leading to lighter cars that use less fuel. The technology is currently being evaluated by nine Australian and overseas companies.
Dr Lumley is also investigating the self-healing properties of metals, developing an understanding of how to design alloys so that they will self-heal in response to cracks and fatigue – an important property for metals used in hard-to-access areas.
Testing so far has shown, up to a tenfold increase in the usable life of the metals under certain conditions.
Dr Lumley first observed the self-healing mechanism 10 years ago as a PhD student at the University of Queensland, when he was testing the effects of thermal processes on metal behaviour.
Heat-strengthening without blisters
High-pressure diecasting (HPDC) is the most cost-effective way of manufacturing high volumes of aluminium parts with complex shapes and smooth surface finishes, such as automotive transmission housings.
However, HPDC parts cannot be heat-treated – a way of strengthening some metals – because blistering and distortion occurs when trapped gas expands on heating.
This new heat treatment can be used to treat conventional high-pressure die castings without distortion, significantly improving strength, ductility and other mechanical properties.
Dr Lumley is particularly interested in novel heat treatments for age-hardenable aluminium alloys, their physical metallurgy, alloy design and microstructural behaviour.
Success in scaling up science
'An example has been the Light Metals Flagship project on heat treatment of HPDCs where we have gone from samples weighing under 50g each, then up to about 0.5kg per part, and most recently to 9kg for an automatic transmission housing.
'In 2007, we will be moving up to a V8 engine block weighing more than 30kg.
'We recently conducted trials in an industrial heat-treatment facility, where we treated multiple batches of 50kg of aluminium (the maximum for the furnace), each batch comprising 125 parts.
'The resultant variation in the properties of the parts was less than 2% compared to our laboratory-scale testing.'
IN THIS EDITION:
MEET THE SCIENTIST:
Metallurgist Dr Roger Lumley at the cutting-edge of light metals research.
The Light Metals Flagship is a CSIRO initiative and part of the National Research Flagships program that aims to deliver scientific solutions to advance Australia's most important national objectives. One of the largest scientific initiatives ever mounted in Australia, it aligns closely with the Federal Government's National Research Priorities. The initiative brings together our national research resources to deliver breakthroughs in fields ranging from healthcare to light metals and the environment.
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Light Metals Flagship
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