Utilization of recycled Al alloys in automotive vehicles is attractive because the energy used to produce recycled Al from scraps is only 5% of that for primary Al production. However, Fe continuously accumulates during the repeated recycling processes. The Fe element is usually detrimental to Al products. It can facilitate the formation of intermetallic particles during casting, such as α and b phases in Al-Si based alloys. The intermetallic phases are brittle, hence, detrimental to the mechanical properties of the final products. Therefore, it is critical to understand the formation mechanisms of those intermetallics in order to develop effective approaches to alleviate their detrimental effects.
A new temperature gradient stage coupled with electro-magnetic fields, has been developed by Dr Cai, and integrated with various synchrotron X-ray beamlines, allowing us to observe the nucleation and growth of the intermatellics in 4D during solidification processes. In this project, you will quantify the evolution of Fe-rich intermatellics in Al alloys with and without the imposed electromagnetic fields during solidification and heat treatments using both the synchrotron-based 4D imaging technique (3D plus time) and metallurgical characterization. Governing mechanisms are expected to be developed and validated against the quantitative experimental results.
The student appointed to this project will have the opportunity to work with world-leading research facilities and to develop expertise in state-of-the-art 4D imaging techniques.