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|The compression and extrusion of aluminum powder hardened through high-energy milling leads to a significant loss in hardness and tensile strength. This effect can be prevented through the addition of Baytubes®. Extruded semi-finished goods made of CNT-reinforced aluminum therefore have similar hardness values to aluminum hardened by high-energy milling.|
Used as an additive, Baytubes® carbon nanotubes (CNT) from Bayer MaterialScience AG significantly improve the mechanical properties of powder metallurgy aluminum. For example, the hardness is then several times greater than that of unalloyed aluminum, tensile strengths comparable to those of steel can be achieved, and the impact strength and thermal conductivity of the lightweight metal can be improved significantly. "Together with competent partners in industry, we want to exploit the considerable application potential that arises from this optimization in properties," says Dr. Horst Adams, Vice President of Future Technologies at Bayer MaterialScience, explaining: "We are partnering with Alcan, PEAK and Zoz to develop customized, CNT-reinforced aluminum materials."
Based in Montreal (Quebec), Canada, Alcan Inc. is not only one of the world's largest suppliers of raw materials for aluminum manufacturing, it also is a leading producer of this lightweight metal and products made from it. PEAK Werkstoff GmbH, headquartered in Velbert, Germany, specializes in the development of high-performance aluminum materials, which it uses to produce powder metallurgy semi-finished and finished goods. Zoz GmbH based in Wenden, Germany, is a global supplier of innovative facilities and equipment, in particular for the production of nanostructured materials, and has comprehensive expertise, for example, in the high-energy milling and mechanical alloying of these materials.
Until now, high hardness levels and tensile strengths could only be achieved in aluminum by a complex alloying process based on rare and expensive metals. "Our carbon nanotubes are an attractive alternative to such complicated alloys. Baytubes® can also significantly reinforce aluminum materials already alloyed with metals," says Adams.
The density of CNT-reinforced aluminum is only around one third that of steel, and the material can therefore support any number of applications in which the aim is to reduce weight and energy consumption by means of lightweight construction. With its combination of high strength and low weight, it is an alternative to steel, expensive specialty metals such as titanium, and carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics. "This new class of materials has great potential for the production, for example, of screws and other connecting elements, allowing existing manufacturing processes (stamping, CNC) to be retained. Lightweight, heavy-duty components for wheelchairs or athletic equipment are also ideal candidates for the material," says Adams. Promising applications exist too in the automotive and aircraft industries. In addition, Baytubes®-reinforced aluminum I-beams could conceivably be manufactured for the construction industry. Because they are much lighter than steel I-beams, they would make it possible to construct much higher buildings. On account of their inherent weight, steel I-beams currently are a factor limiting the maximum height of a skyscraper.
About Bayer MaterialScience
With 2007 sales of EUR 10.4 billion, Bayer MaterialScience is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction and the sports and leisure industries. At the end of 2007, Bayer MaterialScience had 30 production sites and employed approximately 15,400 people around the globe. Bayer MaterialScience is a Bayer Group company.
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This release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Bayer Group or subgroup management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Bayer’s public reports which are available on the Bayer website at www.bayer.com. The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.
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