New Scandium Alloy Developed

By on March 19, 2019 in IN THE NEWS, MATERIAL MATTERS

Siberian Federal University (SFU) scientists, in cooperation with Russian aluminum company Rusal, have come up with a low-cost, high-strength aluminum-magnesium alloy that contains scandium and zirconium. The record low percentage of scandium is what makes this development so potentially important.

Because scandium-content alloys reduce weight and metal density in steel structures, they are good for use in aircraft construction, shipbuilding, auto design, railway-vehicle engineering and the construction industry.

It doesn’t take much scandium in aluminum alloys to substantially increase strength and corrosion resistance. Add to that, alloys with scandium reduce metal density and weight in steel structures. The problem has been its cost, even with only 0.25-0.30 percent scandium.

“The new Al-Mg alloys . . . contain a record low percentage of scandium, which makes production much less expensive thanks to the economical use of alloying additives,” SFU associate professor Alexander Bezrukikh explained.

According to Bezrukikh, the semi-continuous casting of large rolling ingots from the new alloys will lead to the production of reasonably priced, high-quality, semi-finished products (billets, sheets). Aluminum semi-finished products are twice as light and as strong as comparable steel.

It’s estimated that the amount of Al-Sc alloying ingredients per a ton of the new alloy can be lowered by 2.5 times, slashing production costs by more than $3,000 per ton.

Right now, the scandium alloys are used only in aerospace and defense industries. However, Bezrukikh predicts “an increase in demand for these new alloys over the coming five to 10 years.”