The overall target of the AleMo project is to develop high-pressure die cast aluminium alloys with improved properties and/or reduced CO2 footprint to increase the use of aluminium in electrically-powered vehicles. This will lead to lower emissions, longer driving ranges and reduced cost for new cars.
The automotive industry has ambitious plans to introduce large high-pressure die cast components in aluminium for new car models. One large high-pressure die cast aluminium component can replace many chassis parts, improving productivity and reducing cost.
These large components, in addition to new electrical components (e.g. battery boxes and electrical motor housings), result in a large demand for specially adapted aluminium alloys. Property requirements vary depending on the intended use and are different from requirements for more traditional parts in fossil cars.
The project will therefore start by defining which alloying elements can lead to the desired properties by a thorough assessment of relevant elements. Construction of computer programs and simulation tools to quickly and efficiently predict the properties of the alloys will start imminently. Testing of promising alloys based on known alloying elements will be performed in a laboratory, and compared to results from simulations.
Additionally, possibilities to reduced the CO2 footprint of the alloys will be investigated by development and testing of more environmentally-friendly raw materials. Full scale testing of a new silicon master alloy will be performed in the project's first phase, and successful results will potentially lead to commercialization relatively early in the project period.
Characterization of available scrap from the Norwegian/Nordic market will also be included in the first development phase to evaluate the potential for using post consumer scrap in the production of these alloys.
Reduced CO2 emissions and increased electrification are two of the most important trends in the automotive market. During the transition towards lower-emission vehicles, the average aluminium (Al) content in each vehicle is expected to increase significantly due continuous light-weighting and new emerging electrical components. Products based on high-pressure die casting (HPDC) of Al foundry alloys is believed to become particularly important.
As one of the largest Al foundry alloy producers in Europe, Hydro Aluminium, together with Elkem (a world-leading Si producer), Stena (Norwegian subsidiary of Stena Recycling Group, the Nordic region's largest recycling company) and Nemak (a world-leading automotive component producer), in collaboration with R&D partners NTNU and SINTEF, has initiated this innovation project to meet the emerging demands from the automotive industry.
The overall aim of the project is to develop HPDC Al alloys with superior properties and/or lower CO2 footprint for automotive light-weighting and electrification. Innovative alloys, which meet strict property requirements in the as-cast condition while maintaining sufficient castability for large volume production, will be developed. CO2 footprint reduction will be achieved by development of low CO2 Si raw materials, new alloying practices and reduced processing, in addition to introduction of post-consumed Al scrap based on innovative sorting and mapping methods. A combination of computation modelling for property prediction and chemistry mapping, and laboratory-scale trials will be used to accelerate the development process. Promising alloy candidates will be tested in full-scale serial production, and the CO2 footprint of the alloys will be well documented.
A successful innovation project will significantly improve the leading market positions and profitability of Hydro, Elkem and Stena in their corresponding business sectors, as well as significantly reduced production cost for Nemak.