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Fabricating metal composite components for electric vehicles

Fabrication of lightweight aluminium metal matrix composites and validation in green vehicles - FLAMINGo.

This project aims to develop a group of integrated technologies that will enable the uptake and use of Aluminium Metal Matrix Composites (Al-MMCs) in electric vehicles. This will involve advancements in technologies such as mechanochemical alloying and mixing, manufacturing methods such as Green Sand Casting, Low-Pressure Die Casting, Extrusion and Welding, as well as in topology optimization and recycling processes. In order to boost EV market adoption, it is important that innovative technological solutions are provided that will lift existing technical barriers and will lead to both improved efficiency and increase range. To reach these goals the project will target the following development steps at the prototype and full scale:

  • The production of nanoparticles concentrated masterbatches of Al-MMC, in order to insure a complete dispersion of the nanoparticles in the Al.
  • Casting of Al-MMC components by inoculating the Al melt, and homogenising the distribution.
  • Production of smaller components (e.g. brackets and connectors) by Low Pressure Die Casting and larger components, like subframes, by Green Sand Casting to demonstrate the broader feasibility and applicability of Al-MMCs.
  • Extrusion of cast billets for making profiles for the body frame.
  • Identification of the welding techniques (e.g. TIG, GTAW and RSW) suitable for joining Al-MMC components, and assessment of the application.
  • Use of these components for substitution of steels and aluminium parts in electric vehicles, validation of components estimated service life and installation on vehicles.
  • Practices to recycle the Al-MMC components.

Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Dr Brian McKay - Dr Brian McKay is currently a senior lecturer in BCAST at Brunel University. Prior to this he was a university assistant at the Institute of Casting Research (ICR), University of Leoben, Austria (2003-2009) and a research fellow at UMIST (2003). He obtained his DPhil from Oxford University, MSc from The Queen’s University of Belfast and BEng from the University of Ulster. He has over 20 years’ experience in solidification research with 1 Patent on novel metal composites (UK Patent No. 1714401.5), 1 trademarked product (Basaltium), and over 30 papers and two co-edited monographs published in the field. His main expertise lies in the fields of castings, composites, interfaces, coatings, and their characterisation using advanced electron microscopy techniques. Whilst his research interests in the past have been centred on understanding heterogeneous nucleation during solidification, these interests now also include Metal Matrix Composites/Nano-composites, Powder Metallurgy and Electroplating. Over the past 9 years Brian has been involved in 11 successful grant awards totalling ~£30M. He is currently PI on a new €11M Horizon 2020 project LightMe, was the Co-ordinator and PI of a €1.6M EU-FP7 grant, HardAlt, involving 12 partners from 6 countries that focused on finding an alternative nano-composite coating for Hard Chrome, a CoI on the £4.5M EPSRC - LiME grant that investigated solidification mechanisms, PI on the £150k “Characterization and Processing of High Thermal Conducting Al-MMCs” grant sponsored by the Korean Institute of Technology (KITECH) that examined the potential of CNT MMCs for High Power Light emitting Diodes (HPLeD’s), PI on the £300k STORM Innovate UK/EPSRC in which a new composite Al core was produced for offshore marine energy mooring connectors and Co-I on the £10M EPSRC Manufacturing Hub grant. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and Institute of Cast Metal Engineers and has sat on the Technical/Educational Board of the latter as an adviser since 2012. In addition he is a member of the EPSRC Peer Review College and an Associate Editor of the International Journal of Cast Metal Engineers. Over the years Brian has collaborated with many companies including, LSM, BMW, Alcoa and Alcan. He has given several invited presentations throughout Europe and in 2006 he received a TMS Magnesium Application Award for his work in nucleation and more recently has been a recipient of the Rushlight Responsible Product or Service Award 2017-18 for the STORM connector.

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Project last modified 28/01/2021