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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 1998, MCB UP Limited
Keywords Aerospace, Alloys, Aluminium, Lithium
Aluminium-lithium research is paying dividends as noted at a meeting at the Materials Directorate, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, which included representatives from the airframe and space launch sectors, aluminium companies, and various universities.
Research on isotropic aluminium-lithium wrought products, in a programme funded by the US Air Force, has been successful in identifying a new approach based on fundamental principles of alloying and processes and material modelling.
The goal is to produce both unrecrystallized and recrystallized 32mm (1.25in.) thick aluminium-lithium plate having little anistropy and improved short transverse fracture toughness. Work also is being done at the Naval Air Warfare Centre, Loyola University, and Rockwell International on novel processing of isotropic aluminium-lithium alloys and structures. Alcoa has developed new extrusion and plate products for use in horizontal stabilizer and lower wing-skin applications. In the area of space launch, Ai-Li2195 alloy is being developed by IITRI/NASA for use in an external tank and a super lightweight tank. The first launch of the lighter tank is planned for late 1997.
Work at NASA Langley is aimed at developing near-net-shape manufacturing methods to produce structures for spacecraft and launch.
Russian alloys and processing technologies are also being evaluated, for forming and fabricating components in low-cost commercial launch vehicles, the super light-weight tank programme, and the reusable launch vehicle core programme. Ohio State University and Edison Welding Institute are addressing welding issues, and Babcock and Wilcox is looking at NDE of welds and structures. Basic research is also being conducted by various research organizations in the areas of texture evolution in aluminium-lithium binary alloys, the effects of trace element additions on the precipitation process, processing of spray-cast, high-lithium containing aluminium alloys, microstructure, and lowcost vacuum processing.
Further details can be obtained from Dr Kumar V. Jata, Wright Laboratory/Materials Directorate, 2230 10th St, Suite 1, WPAFB, Ohio 45433-7817, USA. Tel: +1 513 255 1301.