July 25, 2016
In the past, we’ve talked about how Aluminum has shaped our lives and continues to be part of the cutting edge of future technology. However, it is also helping push green and sustainable technologies further. Here are a few products currently in research that could help replace the existing technologies with sustainable products.
Lightweight Aluminum-Steel Alloy
steel cable (photo credit: Wiki Commons)
Around a year ago, scientists in South Korea were able to create a successful steel alloy with aluminum for possible use in several industries, including automotive and aircraft manufacturing. This isn’t the first time someone has thought to add aluminum to steel. In the 1970’s, Soviet scientists had recognized that by blending steel and aluminum, they could forge an extremely strong, but lightweight metal. The only problem was that the metal was extremely brittle, one strong impact and it would shatter rather than bend. This is due to the aluminum and iron atoms fusing to create a tough, crystalline structure that is the culprit behind the brittleness of the aluminum-steel alloy. No one knew how to solve this problem until Hansoo Kim and his team of scientists in South Korea discovered a way. By dispersing the crystals formed in the alloy, the surrounding alloy could insulate the metal from splintering.
The final result of this work is a viable aluminum-steel alloy that is 13 percent less dense than normal steel, and with a comparable strength-to-weight ratio to titanium alloys, making it one of the strongest steel alloys discovered.
Flexible Aluminum-Ion batteries
One of the most interesting ways that aluminum is shaping our future and helping make it more green is the progress we’ve achieved with it in the form of batteries. A new flexible aluminum ion battery has been created and it holds as much energy as a common car battery but recharges in about a minute. Aluminum-ion batteries have been seen as an attractive and sustainable alternative to lithium-ion batteries for a multiple of reasons. For one, aluminum is a much more abundant material, unlike the rare-earths that go into an L-Ion battery. Additionally, it is less reactive, which would mean safer, and less flammable batteries. Finally, aluminum has the ability to store almost three times more energy than its lithium-ion counterpart, and is smaller and lighter than current batteries.
While these technologies are very early in their development, the future that they could help create is fascinating. Imagine, driving a car who has an aluminum alloy frame, increasing gas mileage and safety while making it easier for manufacturers to produce cars. Batteries as thin as a piece of paper powering a device hundreds of times its size. Science fiction is quickly becoming non-fiction.