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Development of a new generation of reinforced materials with high ductility through the dispersion of nanoparticles

Led by the foundry company BETSAIDE S.A.L. in order to develop components with superior mechanical properties, the MARENA project studies the potential of ceramic nanoparticle dispersion technology in the industrial manufacture of high-performance nodular castings. It faces this challenge with the collaboration of AZTERLAN and the UPV/EHU, which also participate in the project consortium.

The modification of the microstructure of casting materials by adding nanometric and/or micrometric particles is a novel method that improves the mechanical properties of components by avoiding treating them with alloying elements (such as Cu, Mn, As or Sn) which, although they contribute to improving their resistance, also penalize their ductility.

As pointed out by AZTERLAN’s iron casting technologies expert, Dr. Jon Sertucha, “We know that the introduction and dispersion of ceramic nano- or micro-metric modifiers into the molten metal can create local supercooling around the nanoparticles and thereby modify the crystallization conditions in the vicinity of the nanoparticles. In this way, it would be possible to achieve a grain refinement and an alteration of the morphology of the chrystal structure, having a direct impact on the mechanical properties, as well as on the resistance of the material to corrosion and wear.”

However, the exact mechanisms responsible for improving the mechanical and corrosion properties of nano-modified alloys remain unknown and there is little research on the particle diffusion technology in the field of iron casting and especially in an industrial manufacturing environment.

With the aim of studying the potential of this technology in the development of new products and thus being able to offer casting components with advanced properties (mainly, a higher elastic limit while maintaining high levels of ductility), the foundry company BETSAIDE S.A.L., dedicated to the manufacture of nodular cast iron components for various sectors, collaborates with AZTERLAN and UPV/EHU in the research of this technology and its transferability to the industrial manufacturing process. In the words of the project manager of the BETSAIDE technical office Aitor Estébanez, “introducing advanced technology like this in our production process would allow us to work with a new generation of advanced materials, expanding our product offering and offering more resistant components to the market, reliable and durable. Likewise, it would open the doors to the development of lightweight components and significant savings in material consumption.”

Despite the high potential of the technology, the introduction of nanoparticles into the metal matrix is a complicated process due to the low wettability and density of the particles compared to iron. Along with this, the characteristics of the particles (dimensions, structure) and the way in which they are introduced into the metallic mass can influence their effect.

In order to overcome these limitations, AZTERLAN and UPV/EHU have worked on an innovative strategy to disperse the nanoparticles in the nodular casting matrix through the addition of nanoparticles synthesized in different concentrations and with innovative metal coatings. “The results we have obtained at laboratory scale are promising in terms of its incorporation into the nodular casting matrix, but further research and development of the technology is needed to assess its potential and its applicability at an industrial level in a reliable and efficient way.”

The MARENA project, led by BETSAIDE S.A.L. and with the participation of the AZTERLAN Metallurgy Research Centre and the Department of Inorganic Chemistry of the UPV/EHU, is funded by the Basque Government’s Elkartek programme.

Azterlan Team
Azterlan Team
RE·Thinking Metallurgy. 40+ años acompañando a la industria metal-mecánica.

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