IIT Madras develops light-weight alloy to replace steel, aluminium in cars

The research team has made headway in solving this problem by formulating a magnesium alloy with almost zero yield asymmetry and high ductility.
Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM), along with the University of North Texas and US Army Research Laboratory, have developed a magnesium alloy with significantly improved properties, that can replace steel and aluminium in automotive and aerospace components. 

The current industrial application of wrought magnesium alloys in structural components is limited due to their poor moderate or low strength. There has been a great deal of focus on lowering the carbon footprint of vehicles by using light-weight material in their bodies. Lighter vehicles consume less fuel to run and are therefore play a strategic role in increasing energy-efficiency. vehicular emissions alone contribute 27 per cent of total carbon dioxide emissions currently.  

The research team has made headway in solving this problem by formulating a magnesium alloy with almost zero yield asymmetry and high ductility. The new engineered alloy is strong, highly ductile and its super-plasticity is achieved at higher strain-rates that reduce overall manufacturing time, effort, and costs. In addition to this, it is also lightweight, which helps lower the carbon footprint of vehicles. Lightweight vehicles need lesser fuel to run and are therefore more fuel-efficient.

Sushanta Kumar Panigrahi, Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Madras, said, “In view of the compelling needs for economical usage of scarce energy resources and ever-stricter control over emissions to lower environmental impact, automotive and aerospace industries are searching for alternative advanced light-weight structural materials to existing conventional materials." 

Being one of the lightest and energy-efficient structural materials, magnesium alloys are potential candidates to replace steel and aluminum alloys in automotive and aerospace components since their density is two-thirds of aluminum and one-quarter of steel.

His research group is also trying to increase the load-bearing capacity of metals and alloys through microstructural engineering and processing of metals. The team is all set to apply the same strategy of processing to other known magnesium alloys and metallic alloys with the intention of obtaining highly efficient stronger materials with superior performance.



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