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Título: El uso de las aleaciones ligeras en aviones
Título original: Lightweight alloy seeks aircraft role
Resumen: A new aluminum-lithium alloy technology promises to slash the weight of aircraft primary structures by 20 percent, according to its manufacturer, Alcan Global Aerospace, Transportation and Industry. The new alloy, called Airware, can compete with and complement composites, Alcan said. Both Airbus and Bombardier have signed contracts to buy the alloy for new aircraft currently under development.

This is quite a turnaround for aluminum-lithium, which has been under development since the 1980s. The original idea was to incorporate lithium, the lightest metal, into aluminum to reduce density. Unfortunately, lithium also ranks among the most reactive of elements. The resulting alloys were lightweight, but had stability and weldability issues. During the 1990s, metallurgists improved welding and mechanical properties, but only if they made lithium alloys heavier and much more expensive.

According to Bruno Chenal, Alcan’s director of innovation and technology, Airware has found a happy medium. Airware includes only 2 percent lithium. This proportion reduces the alloy’s density, and also increases such mechanical properties as strength, stiffness, toughness, and fatigue strength by more than 30 percent. The combination of improved properties and lower density enables manufacturers to reduce the weight of structural parts by 20 percent.

According to Chenal, Airware has two to three times the corrosion resistance of the best aluminum alloys. Ordinarily, corrosion attacks aluminum too fast to use with composites, which are impervious to its ravages. Alcan said that Airware will let engineers build components that combine aluminum and composites (think aluminum wing frames with composite skins) and not have to worry about heavy maintenance for 12 years.
Alcan has developed a technology to recycle the aluminum-lithium alloy, something that was impossible in the past because of lithium’s high reactivity. This is important because about 90 percent of the material is lost in machining and fabrication, and lithium is expensive to refine and to alloy. Recycling recaptures the lithium at much lower cost, making the alloy more affordable, Chenal said. 

While aluminum-lithium cannot compete with composites on weight, it is close. It also uses existing metal machining and fabrication technologies, unlike composites, which require new layup equipment and ovens.

Airbus plans to use Airware 2050 plate and forging stock for its dual-aisle A350 XWB aircraft. It will go into the wing frame and some fuselage parts. It will constitute more than 20 percent of all materials used on Bombardier’s new CSeries single-aisle aircraft. Bombardier will use sheet and extrusions for fuselage skins, stringers, frames, and floor beams.
Idioma: Inglés     País: USA     Año: 2011
Tipo: Artículo
Área: Materiales y Materias primas > Aleaciones ligeras (aluminio, titanio, magnesio...)
Subsectores de aplicación: · Maquinaria y bienes de equipo
· Fabricación de productos metálicos, excepto maquinaria y equipo
Entidad: Alcan Global Aerospace, Transportation and Industry
Fuente: MEMagazine
Localización en fuente: Articles -January -Tech Focus
Descriptores: Lightweight alloy (aleaciones ligeras), aircraft (aviones)
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