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Japan has developed a new process for the production of cheap and environmentally friendly aluminum alloys

2020-02-26
Adding an appropriate amount of Plutonium (Sc) element in the aluminum alloy can significantly improve the isotropic properties of metal materials. The high cost and complicated sintering process of metal rhenium have limited the development of aluminum rhenium alloys and lightweight Al-Sc alloys. Al-Sc alloy has high strength, good plastic toughness, excellent corrosion resistance, and weldability. Al-Sc alloy is being produced commercially. It is currently used to manufacture a new generation of light and expensive structural products such as military, aerospace, and ship material. However, the high cost associated with the Sc smelting process requires an alternative, inexpensive method to expand the widespread use of Sc as an energy-saving structural material.
 
On February 14, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Okinawa University of Science and Technology, and Tohoku University from Japan jointly published a paper on Scientific Reports entitled "Microwave Irradiation Process for Al-Sc Alloy Production." Al-Sc alloy, with lower energy input and less greenhouse gas emissions, obtains a cheap production process, which significantly reduces its production cost.
 
Chemical reactions carried out under microwave radiation usually have a high rate and high selectivity. Compared with traditional heating, smaller reactors and more energy-efficient processes can be used. Therefore, microwave chemical processing and synthesis, as a means to improve process efficiency, save energy and reduce consumption, is moving towards the direction of "green chemistry" and "green engineering" and has attracted widespread attention. Some researchers also suggest using microwave heating to smelt metals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
The study previously demonstrated the feasibility of microwave radiation in metal smelting, with high yields (71%) and lower energy consumption (one-third of the conventional Pidgeon process required) 1.7 g of magnesium metal was obtained. Besides, the microwave-based carbothermal reduction has also been demonstrated. In this study, a new microwave radiation process for preparing Al-Sc alloys was studied. Compared with traditional methods, this process has lower energy input and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Use microwave radiation as a heat source for the following chemical reactions:
 
Sc2O3 (s) + Mg (g) + Al (s) Al-Sc alloy metal + MgO
The specific process experiment results are shown in the following figure:
 
Figure 1. Schematic of the experimental setup for aluminum-rhenium production
 
 
 
Figure 2. (a) XRD patterns of residues and product mixtures at different reaction temperatures for chemical reactions; (b) briquettes after reduction reactions
 
 
 
Figure 3. Scanning electron microscope image of (a) reaction products, (b) Al, (c) Sc, (d) Mg, and (e) O intensity distributions.
 
 
Figure 4. Optical spectrum measurement results
 
In summary, this work demonstrates a new process for producing Al-Sc alloys using microwave radiation. Since the temperature (660 ° C) used in this study is the lowest reported so far, it is expected to reduce energy consumption in industrial production And simplify processing equipment. And at a lower reaction temperature, by optimizing the reaction conditions, unreacted hafnium oxide can adequately react completely, and magnesium oxide as a by-product can be easily removed with hydrochloric acid. The microwave radiation treatment method is expected to be applied to other alloys, etc. If this technology is promoted, it will be expected to replace traditional processes and be produced on a large scale with ultra-low energy consumption, environmental protection, and cheap production processes.