Light, strong al­loy may alter de­sign of air­craft

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By WANG HONGYI in Shang­hai wanghongyi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

A new kind of nano ma­te­rial de­vel­oped by do­mes­tic re­searchers is ex­pected to be­come the next-gen­er­a­tion avi­a­tion ma­te­rial and boost the de­vel­op­ment of the coun­try’s home­grown large pas­sen­ger air­craft.

The nano ce­ramic alu­minum al­loy was de­vel­oped by the re­search team from the School of Ma­te­ri­als Sci­ence and En­gi­neer­ing at Shang­hai Jiao Tong Univer­sity.

Light in weight, such new ma­te­rial has the char­ac­ter­is­tics of high rigid­ity, high strength, fa­tigue re­sis­tance, low ex­pan­sion and high tem­per­a­ture re­sis­tance.

In­stead of the tra­di­tional phys­i­cal method of mix­ing the ce­ramic and alu­minum al­loy, re­searchers put the nano ce­ramic par­ti­cles into alu­minum al­loy through an in­no­va­tive chem­i­cal process. Dur­ing the process, the size, shape, and dis­tri­bu­tion of the par­ti­cles were con­trolled.

This helped im­prove the rigid­ity and strength of the new ma­te­rial. At the same time, the pro­cess­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing per­for­mance of alu­minum al­loy re­mains, said Pro­fes­sor Wang Haowei, who led the project.

“The nano ce­ramic alu­minum al­loy ma­te­rial helps break the bot­tle­neck of large-scale ap­pli­ca­tion in en­gi­neer­ing,” Wang said.

The univer­sity’s sci­en­tists started the ba­sic re­search in the field in the early 1990s, Wang said, and they have made a lot of ex­per­i­ments in de­vel­op­ing the new ma­te­rial over the years.

“Com­pared with ti­ta­nium al­loy and high-tem­per­a­ture al­loy, the per­for­mance of alu­minum al­loy with 3D print­ing tech­nol­ogy is much lower. The 3D print­ing com­po­nents made of nano ce­ramic alu­minum al­loy can achieve the per­for­mance of forg­ings,” Wang said.

So far, the new ma­te­rial has al­ready been used in the Tian­gong-1 and Tian­gong-2 space labs, quan­tum satel­lites and me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal satel­lites. It also has been used in key com­po­nents of au­to­mo­tive in­ter­nal-com­bus­tion en­gines, which not only re­duces weight ef­fi­ciency, but also saves en­ergy, re­duces emis­sions and im­proves safety.

Wang said re­searchers are step­ping up their co­opera- tion with Com­mer­cial Air­craft Corp of China to pro­mote the use of such new ma­te­ri­als in large air­craft.

“The ad­vances in avi­a­tion de­vel­op­ment are closely con­nected to the progress of ma­te­ri­als, and we are closely watch­ing the de­vel­op­ment and per­for­mance of the new ma­te­rial,” said Wu Guanghui, vice-pres­i­dent of COMAC, the gen­eral de­signer of C919, the first home­grown large pas­sen­ger air­craft

Wu said the nano ce­ramic alu­minum al­loy ma­te­rial is still be­ing tested, and is ex­pected to be used in the C919 air­craft, re­plac­ing some of cur­rent com­po­nents, which were im­ported.

YIN LIQIN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Moth­ers breast-feed their ba­bies as part of a group ad­vo­cacy ac­tiv­ity at the Shang­hai Expo Cen­ter on Satur­day. World Breastfeeding Week is cel­e­brated an­nu­ally from Aug 1 to 7 to en­cour­age breast-feed­ing and im­prove the health of in­fants glob­ally.

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