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Title: A New Method for Low Cost Production of Titanium Alloys for Reducing Energy Consumption of Mechanical Systems

This project investigated an innovative manufacturing process intended to minimize the cost of production of titanium materials and components, and increase the adoption of Ti components for energy consuming applications, such as automobiles. A key innovation of the proposed manufacturing approach is a novel Ti powder sintering technology for making titanium materials with ultrafine grain microstructure in the as-sintered state with minimum, or an absence, of post-sintering processes. The new sintering technology is termed Hydrogen Sintering and Phase Transformations (HSPT), and constitutes a promising manufacturing technology that can be used to produce titanium (Ti) materials and components in a near-net-shape form, thus also minimizing machining costs. Our objective was to meet, or possibly surpass, the mechanical property levels for ASTM B348 Grade 5 for wrought Ti-6Al-4V. Although specific applications call for varying mechanical property requirements, ASTM B348 was created for the demanding applications of the aerospace industry, and is the established standard for Ti-6Al-4V. While the primary goal was to meet, or exceed this standard, the team also had the goal of demonstrating this could be done at a significantly lower cost of production. Interim goals of the project were to fully develop this novel sintering process, and provide sufficientmore » baseline testing to make the method practical and attractive to industry. By optimizing the process parameters for the sintering of titanium hydride (TiH2) powders in a hydrogen atmosphere and controlling the phase transformations during and after sintering, the HSPT process was expected to reduce the energy consumption, and thus cost, of making Ti alloys and fabricating Ti components. The process was designed such that no high temperature melting is required for producing Ti alloys; little or no post-sintering processing is needed for producing desired microstructures (and therefore enhanced mechanical properties), and finally, minimum machining is needed to fabricate finished Ti components. An energy analysis within this report provides more detail, but calculated values indicate that the HSPT process is less than half as energy intensive as conventional wrought processing, while producing mechanical properties that are comparable. In addition to the energy savings anticipated from the industrial production of Ti components, a second prong of energy savings resides in the use phase of components produced, primarily from use in the transportation sector. Titanium has a number of material qualities appropriate for the auto industry, particularly low mass and corrosion resistance. By reducing the weight of automobiles and other vehicles, energy costs and CO2 production will be reduced over the lifetime of the vehicles, and components in corrosive environments on vehicles, such as exhaust systems and other under carriage parts, may not have to be replaced during a vehicle’s lifetime. Our analysis indicates that by replacing only 5.6 kg of steel parts in an auto with Ti components across the entire US fleet would save approximately 486 million gallons of gasoline per year. This correlates to a reduction of 3.6 million metric tons of CO2 per year. The potential for replacing many more of the steel parts in automobiles with lighter weight titanium components is clear. The project was very successful overall, meeting all milestones and surpassing project goals in terms of mechanical properties and microstructures produced. In addition to tensile properties, fatigue properties were emphasized in the project work. Powder metallurgy processes often have porosity to some degree in their final microstructure, and porosity is a well-known cause of crack initiation and low fatigue performance. Although many automobile applications do not undergo fatigue stress regimes, many others do encounter cyclic stress, and design criteria in the latter case require good fatigue properties. Production and testing of HSPT parts showed excellent tensile properties and fracture toughness, and fatigue properties that exceeded all previously reported powder metallurgy Ti methods, overlapping with wrought processed values. Fatigue limits exceeded 500 MPa and tensile strength exceeded 1,000 MPa while maintaining good ductility. Microstructures produced during the project period easily surpassed pre-project expectations. In addition to producing very fine grains in the as-sintered state (without post sintered thermo-mechanical work), porosity was reduced and industrially relevant microstructures previously undemonstrated in any other powder metallurgy titanium method were produced using HSPT materials. These microstructures, both bi-modal and globularized, were produced with simple post-sinter heat treatments, but without the need for energy intensive mechanical work. The employed heat treatments expanded the available mechanical property range (tensile strength vs. ductility) of the HSPT system in Ti-6Al-4V. The project has resulted in the publication, thus far, of five refereed journal articles and five conference proceedings papers, as well as a patent application, two dissertations and a master’s thesis. Two additional journal articles are currently under review, and at least three others are currently in preparation, with several additional students anticipated to graduate within the coming year. Presentations and papers were a particular focus of the second half of the project, once significant experimentation had been performed and analyzed. As part of our efforts to disseminate information of our results, the Ti research teams within Prof. Fang’s and Prof. Chandran’s research groups had a strong presence at the 13th World Conference on Ti, August 16-20, 2015, in San Diego. Several research groups in the US and in Europe are now performing experiments using the HSPT process. Accompanying efforts to bring HSPT to the Ti community at large, and industry in particular, work has continued with our partners and with other interested industrial Ti users and producers, including Boeing and GKN (a major powder metallurgy parts manufacturer). Commercialization has been a central focus of the final phase of the project, and Reading Alloys signed a provisional licensing agreement in summer of 2015. They are currently seeking an appropriate customer with which to pursue initial parts manufacturing efforts. Other licensing options and partners are continuing to be pursued. The promise of lightweight, strong and corrosion resistant Ti alloys with long fatigue lifetimes for automobile or transportation applications has been the vision of the metal industry since titanium came to the attention of scientists and engineers. The sole limitation of realizing these goals has been cost, which is primarily a function of energy used in production. The HSPT process was shown through this work to be capable of realizing this goal, and facilitating the practical use of titanium in US automotive and other industries.« less
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  1. Univ. of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT (United States)
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Resource Type:
Technical Report
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Related Information: F. Cao, K.R. Chandran, P. Kumar, P. Sun, Z.Z. Fang & M. Koopman, “New Powder Metallurgical Approach to Achieve High Fatigue Strength in Ti-6Al-4V Alloy.” Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A, 4 (2016) 7(5), 2335-2345.P. Sun, Z. Z. Fang, M. Koopman, Y Xia, J. Paramore, K. Chandran, Y. Ren and J Lu, “Phase Transformations and Formation of Ultra-Fine Microstructure During Hydrogen Sintering and Phase Transformation (HSPT) Processing of Ti-6Al-4V,” Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A, (2015) in press, but available at: J. D. Paramore, Z. Z. Fang, P. Sun, M. Koopman, K.S. Ravi Chandran, and M. Dunstan, “High Performance Ti-6Al-4V with Wrought-like Microstructures and Mechanical Properties via Hydrogen Sintering and Phase Transformation (HSPT),” Scripta Materiala, 107 (2015) 103-6.F. Cao, P. Kumar, M. Koopman, L. Chenluh, Z.Z. Fang, and K.S. Ravi Chandran. "Understanding competing fatigue mechanisms in powder metallurgy Ti–6Al–4V alloy: Role of crack initiation and duality of fatigue response." Materials Science and Engineering: A 630 (2015) 139-145.P. Sun, Z. Z. Fang, M. Koopman, J. Paramore, K. S. R. Chandran,Y. Ren and J. Lu, “An experimental study of the (Ti–6Al–4V)–xH phase diagram using in situ synchrotron XRD and TGA/DSC techniques." Acta Materialia 84 (2015): 29-41.
Research Org:
Univ. of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Advanced Manufacturing Office (EE-5A)
Country of Publication:
United States
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; 32 ENERGY CONSERVATION, CONSUMPTION, AND UTILIZATION; 42 ENGINEERING Titanium; microstructure; phase transformations; hydrogen sintering; powder metallurgy