New lightweight steel is cheap yet strong

first_imgOne method of making steel lighter is to add aluminum, a less dense metal. In steel, aluminum forms an ultrastrong compound with iron. That strength is an asset, but the compound tends to arrange into brittle bands. To disperse the aluminum compound and make the metal less brittle, researchers led by materials scientist Hansoo Kim of Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea added nickel, which caused the aluminum compound to permeate the metal in nanometer-sized clusters instead of long bands. The clusters are too small to cause the undesirable brittleness, but the strength and lightness of the aluminum remain, the researchers report online today in Nature. The researchers examined their steel with an electron microscope to confirm that the aluminum clusters had formed. Then they tested the metal by applying tension and found that it was stronger and less brittle than conventional steel.The new steel is an “interesting and novel development” that stands a good chance of eventually being adopted by industry, says metallurgist P. Chris Pistorius of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. But it’s not a dramatic leap forward, he says. “This is a very significant increment, but it does build on what we know about how steels work.”Where the new metal really shines is in its cost. Other lightweight, strong metals such as titanium alloys are too expensive to be used in passenger vehicles. The low price of the metals used to produce the new steel means that the price will be closer to that of standard steel, Russell says, so automakers could use it to lighten their loads without driving up costs. “That’s the kind of thing that makes engineers salivate freely,” Russell says. “They love that kind of improvement.” Email Lighter cars and airplanes could be on the horizon thanks to an advance in the manufacture of steel. Researchers have found a way to strengthen the metal and reduce its density—and without increasing costs.The advance might translate to an extra 1 mile per gallon (2 liters per kilometer) in gas mileage for a standard car, estimates materials scientist Alan Russell of Iowa State University in Ames, who was not involved with the work. That’s not enough to make drivers jump for joy at the gas pump, but “it’s really quite a substantial achievement,” he says.Producing strong, lightweight materials is a delicate balancing act. Lighter materials tend to be weaker, and stronger materials tend to be more brittle. Glass, for example, is strong but brittle: You can try to bend or stretch it with your hands and it won’t budge, but drop it on the floor and it shatters. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)center_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrylast_img read more