WPI Researcher Uses Corrosion Test Chamber to Simulate Road Salt Impacts on Future Car Designs
A Worcester Polytechnic Institute professor, in collaboration with national laboratories and a global auto parts supplier, is testing a new type of welding that may make the joint between light metal alloys more resistant to corrosion, including salt spray, leading to future designs of durable, next-generation metal car joints used in ultra-light car doors and other vehicle body applications. Mr Adam Powell, associate professor of mechanical engineering, said that “The auto industry is seeking to reduce the weight of cars and trucks while maintaining the lifespan of a car. One of the ways to do that is to use advanced lightweight materials such as aluminium and magnesium alloys. The researchers are testing to determine if a new type of welding known as friction stir welding reduces corrosion in aluminium-magnesium alloy joints. Currently, any joint involving direct contact between different metals tends to suffer from galvanic corrosion. We’re trying to show that corrosion can be much less of a problem with this new type of welding. We think that this process holds a lot of promise and could make a significant impact on energy use in motor vehicles without reducing the lifespan of a car.”
Under the research plan, Magna provides aluminum and magnesium metals to PNNL, which welds the materials. PNNL then ships the welded parts to WPI, which conducts corrosion and mechanical testing. WPI then sends much of its tested samples to ORNL, which oversees advanced analysis on the welds.
WPI is currently conducting a series of experiments in a lab using a piece of equipment known as a cyclic corrosion test chamber, which stands about three feet tall and resembles a tanning bed. Powell and his research team place the small sections of welds in rows inside the chamber. The welds are then exposed to a variety of corrosive environments, including salt spray, high temperatures up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and high humidity.
As a result of the research, Powell and his team aim to show that the new welding process will lead to more durable subassemblies made of the two dissimilar metals. Benefits include lighter vehicles, reduced fuel consumption for gas-powered cars, and longer range for electric cars.
Source : Strategic Research Institute