Metal Matrix Composites: Bi-Metal Castings
Similar to the development of selectively-reinforced composite materials, Loukus Tech is developing process techniques to manufacture lightweight structures with dissimilar metals. Also called “bi-metal,” the structure utilizes one metal in a certain region to serve a particular need, and is surrounded or carried by a lower density metal to deliver a lighter-weight structure.
Loukus Tech uses the squeeze casting process to manufacture a high integrity cast structure that incorporates steel inserts. In addition, L.T. uses its proprietary thermal barrier technology to coat the inserts to prevent premature solidification and to cast extremely thin walls.
The ultimate goal in bi-metal structures is to achieve complete load transfer across the joint, and this requires a high integrity joint. Without a mechanical feature, the joint as shown is apparent, unfortunately without significant load transfer:
To overcome the lack of a metallurgical bond between dissimilar materials, it’s typical to design with interlocking mechanical features that remain within the cast matrix. The downside of this approach is the thick wall around the features minimizing the weight reduction. Loukus Tech’s technology and approach will enable thin walls without the quality issues that are common typical process methods.
The applications are primarily focused on efficiencies in transportation, in automobiles, military vehicles and aviation. In an automobile, a frame node made of cast aluminum could incorporate a high strength steel pillar structure. In a combat vehicle, a cast lightweight aluminum structure could incorporate armor steel inserts to protect soldiers.
Loukus Tech’s work is intended to optimize the performance of bi-metal cast components, developing lightweight structures while minimizing costs associated in manufacturing these joints.
Loukus has accepted the ARPA Challenge, and is working to make it real. In this process, Loukus has developed unique structures and processes, and has filed four patents. The goal of the ARPA program is a 9 gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) tank that is tested for vehicle applications. Through various process improvements the target burst pressure of 8100 psi was achieved. Additional work is ongoing to further optimize the weight, energy density, and specific energy of the tank. The test standards are designed for cylindrical tanks, so Loukus is working with the tank test community to determine a fair test parameter that ensures the safety and performance of the conformable tank design.
Loukus is seeking financial and commercial partners to bring resources and investment for future product development, manufacturing scale-up, sales, marketing and distribution. If you are interested, please contact Loukus Tech today.