Metal that grows stronger in the sun Australian CSIRO scientists have discovered a process that could lead to the production of aluminium cars and planes that get stronger as they bake in the sun.
Dr Roger Lumley of CSIRO Elaborately Transformed Metals says the new process involves age-hardening aluminium to a point where the process can be completed by exposure to sunlight rather than in a furnace. The discovery arises from CSIRO's work in light alloys and advanced metals.
"We found in the course of this work that if the high-temperature aging process used to strengthen aluminium components, such as castings or motor vehicle body panels, is interrupted, and the material is allowed to undergo secondary aging at ambient temperature, the material became 20% tougher" Lumley said.
At the same time, the total-energy-to-rupture point can also be extended by up to 800%, resulting in safer cars with crumple zones able to absorb much more energy as they deform or rupture on impact.
"Significantly it means aluminium car body panels, for example, can be assembled and painted, (the baking cycle used to harden the paint adds to the process) and they will continue to strengthen in the sun.?
"The process would continue, albeit at a slower rate, for the life of the vehicle" Lumley said.