Advanced Materials & Processes

NOV-DEC 2013

Covers developments in engineering materials selection, processing, fabrication, testing/characterization, materials engineering trends, and emerging technologies, industrial and consumer applications, as well as business and management trends

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grant from the Energy Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) to develop a new process to produce magnesium used to make lightweight vehicle parts. Professor Alan Weimer and his research team will use the grant to develop a new gasification process that uses concentrated solar power to produce both magnesium and synthesis gas, or syngas, a precursor for synthetic gasoline. The procedure includes a novel quenching process to enable a gas-to-solid magnesium phase change inside of the reactor. The new process is a renewable energy-powered approach to magnesium production, which could reduce carbon emissions and lower costs. The process involves the reaction of carbon and magnesium oxide which are heated to high temperatures in a hybrid solar-electrical reactor to produce magnesium vapor and carbon monoxide gas. While the magnesium vapor is converted into a solid metal, carbon monoxide is combined with hydrogen produced by using excess heat recovered from the solar-electrical reactor to split water into its component parts, thereby producing syngas that can be made into diesel fuel or gasoline. For more information: Alan W. Weimer,, Opting for aluminum over steel in new automobile construction to improve fuel economy is also the best way to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, according to a new study by the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Tenn. The study found that using aluminum to reduce vehicle weight across the world's overall transportation fleet can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 660 million tons annually, representing 9% of transportationrelated emissions. Recycling aluminum saves 95% of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with primary aluminum production, and requires only 5% of the energy. Nearly 90% of automotive aluminum is recovered and recycled. Steel Market Development Institute's (SMDI) president Lawrence Kavanagh issued the following statement regarding the ORNL study. "Last week the Aluminum Association released a 'study' in the form of a slide presentation developed by the ORNL claiming a life cycle emissions advantage for aluminum versus steel vehicles. On first read, we noted concerns with certain claims but we decided to withhold judgment until we could see the full report and read the peer reviewers' comments. Unfortunately, according to the ORNL, there is no detailed report supporting the slide presentation. Without a detailed report subjected to peer-review, you must seriously question the transparency of the work and the validity of the findings." ADVANCED MATERIALS & PROCESSES • NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2013 7

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