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THERMOLAB - ISS

A variety of industries -- information technology, aerospace, automotive, and basic and new materials manufacturing -- need technological innovations, which attain high-value-added and high-quality products at low cost not only for global competition, but also because of the perspective of environmental consciousness and regulations. In recent years, the trend in developing new products moved from the traditional trial-and-error approach to computerbased modeling, in particular for high-temperature melt processing. This has become possible by the increase in computer power, but it is still hampered by a lack of available and appropriate thermophysical property data of high-temperature melts as reliable input parameters.

Title of the project: Thermophysical Properties of Liquid Metallic Alloys: Modelling of Solidification Processes and Development of Advanced Products

Duration: April 01, 2010 – March 31, 2013

Project partnership:

1. H.-J. Fecht – coordinator, University of Ulm
    R. Wunderlich
2. L. Battezzati, Università di Torino
3. J. Brillo, DLR Köln
4. A. Dommann, CSEM Neuchatel
5. J. Étay, CNRS SIMAP-EPM, Grenoble
6. W. Lojkowski, IHPP Academy of Science, Warsaw
7. K. Pericleous, University of Greenwich
8. E. Ricci, IENI-CNR Dept of Genoa
9. S. Seetharaman, KTH, Stockholm

A variety of industries -- information technology, aerospace, automotive, and basic and new materials manufacturing -- need technological innovations, which attain high-value-added and high-quality products at low cost not only for global competition, but also because of the perspective of environmental consciousness and regulations. In recent years, the trend in developing new products moved from the traditional trial-and-error approach to computerbased modeling, in particular for high-temperature melt processing. This has become possible by the increase in computer power, but it is still hampered by a lack of available and appropriate thermophysical property data of high-temperature melts as reliable input parameters.

Recent developments in process modelling provide 3D analysis of melt convection, temperature and heat flux distribution and, thus, predictions for product quality and process control. However, crucial obstacles render measurements of thermophysical properties difficult at elevated temperatures because of the generally high chemical reactivity and fluidity of metallic melts. Recent progress in containerless levitation and processing techniques can overcome these experimental difficulties and enable measurements of various properties of “free-floating” metallic drops in the stable und undercooled liquid state.

With respect to this exciting development, a truly international and multi-disciplinary materials science project (ThermoLab - ISS) has been conceived. Materials to be investigated include metallic alloys and composites, intermetallics and non-crystalline alloys. Basic metal physics aspects are considered as well, such as, e.g., the atomic structure of complex multi-component liquids, their relation to macroscopic properties of the liquid phase, and the thermodynamics and kinetics of phase formation from the liquid which is also of relevance for industrial alloy design. In addition, theoretical modelling and simulation of complex casting processes and the influence of magnetic fields are an inherent part of the project.

These measurements and investigations shall be performed aboard the International Space Station ISS. Using the MSL-EML facility in the COLUMBUS module, the experimental temperature - time windows can be sufficiently extended (up to 2200 0C for > 10,000 sec.) and performance of precise surface excitations, A.C. calorimetry and other techniques become reality. Complimentary experiments are planned on ground and parabolic flights to provide guidance for the long-term μg experiments. The science team is composed of leading and experienced European experts as a core group which has pioneered the application of containerless techniques and modelling under various g-dependent conditions. This is embedded in a truly international team in the field of thermophysical property measurements and development of new materials.