LiME Project injects new zing to castings research
Patrick Helly FICME guests at national launch
ICME President Patrick Helly CEng FICME of NewPro Foundry was a speaker at the recent official launch of the LiME (Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Liquid Metal Engineering) Project at Brunel University. Also present were Professor Nick Green FICME of the University of Birmingham, which along with Oxford University, is a collaborating in this project which will provide a major boost to the metals sector in the UK. The project is sponsored by the engineering and physical sciences research council, EPSRC, and a number of industrial partners including Jaguar Land Rover and Rolls-Royce, as well as ICME, CMF, and foundries NewPro, Norton Aluminium, JVM and Grainger and Worrall.
The project brings together engineers, scientists, technicians and researchers from both the casting and wrought sectors.to develop manufacturing technologies that significantly cut carbon emissions, reduce energy use and save millions of tonnes of natural resources every year.
One of Lime’s principle aims is to achieve full metal circulation – reusing, remanufacturing and recycling metals already in use by using innovative technologies. Full metal circulation would lead to substantial conservation of natural resources and significant reductions in energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
3% of world electricity used to produce aluminium
“Our dream is to reduce usage from raw materials; to produce 1kg of aluminium from ore requires 14kWh of electrical energy which represents 12kg of CO2. If recycled aluminium is used this figure is reduced by 95%” says Professor Fan, FICME project director, pointing out that primary aluminium production accounts for an astonishing 3% of the world’s electricity requirement.
The LiME Centre is working closely with the aerospace and automotive industries since these sectors will benefit most from the weight-saving technologies. “It will benefit the sectors, particularly automotive, in using lightweight materials to reduce the weight of vehicles. It will mean better efficiency and less CO2 emissions,” he explains.
Guests enjoyed a tour of the suite of refurbished laboratories which include pilot and industrial scale casting facilities including high pressure die casting, direct-chill casting, squeeze casting, investment casting and spray forming, intensive melt shearing technologies for enhanced nucleation and grain refinement. Across the partners the project researchers have access to X-ray diffraction of molten alloys under shear, and advanced liquid metal viscometry, high resolution real-time X-ray imaging and irradiated particle tracking techniques for assessing the flow of molten metals, a range of techniques for the control and measurement of the quality of molten alloys including rotary degassing, hydrogen measurement, reduced pressure testing and pressurised filtration as well as internationally leading electron microscopy.
Opportunity for Growth
Professor David Delphy, Chief executive of the EPSRC said that this was an “opportunity for manufacturing to play a key role in balancing the UK economy and provide a platform for growth”. He added that “the British economy is not ‘post industrial,’ manufacturing accounts for 15% of GDP but 50% of exports.”
The centre was formally opened by Tony Harper, head of research and advanced engineering at Jaguar Land Rover.