Novelis, an Alcan spinoff that is now part of the Aditya Birla Group, has developed a new aluminum alloy that is making impressive gains in automotive and elsewhere. Novelis Fusion is based on a conventional direct chill (DC) mold that is modified in order to allow multiple metal streams to be cast into one single aluminum sheet ingot. The result is an alloy, not unlike multilayer polymer sheet, that is joined together by a metallurgical bond. One of the heavyweight users is the BMW 7 Series, which uses lightweight door components made from Novelis Fusion. A new grade (PA221) designed for appliances is also now available.
Although plastics make up only about 11% of all US municipal solid waste, many are actually more energy-dense than coal. Converting these non-recycled plastics into energy with existing technologies could reduce US coal consumption, as well as boost domestic energy reserves, says a new study.
This year's Dupont-sponsored WardsAuto survey of automotive designers and other engineers shows lightweighting dominates the discussion. But which materials will help them meet the 2025 CAFE standards are not entirely clear.
Artificially created metamaterials are already appearing in niche applications like electronics, communications, and defense, says a new report from Lux Research. How quickly they become mainstream depends on cost-effective manufacturing methods, which will include additive manufacturing.
SpaceX has 3D printed and successfully hot-fired a SuperDraco engine chamber made of Inconel, a high-performance superalloy, using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). The company's first 3D-printed rocket engine part, a main oxidizer valve body for the Falcon 9 rocket, launched in January and is now qualified on all Falcon 9 flights.
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