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Project Announced for Clean Energy Manufacturing of Auto Steel

Posted on: 08/30/2013
Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and Colorado School of Mines (CSM) researchers are lending their expertise to a three-year, $1.2 million project to develop a new class of advanced steel for the automotive industry. Part of a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) advanced manufacturing initiative, the project focuses on developing materials that will be produced using cleaner manufacturing methods that eliminate the traditional heat-treatment and associated costs and hazards of the process.

“The new project’s goal is to eliminate the time and energy required to heat these parts to around 900°C by creating steels that will meet the safety requirement and still be formable at room temperature,” said Kester Clarke, one of the Los Alamos researchers and a TMS member. The current method for forming safety-critical “b-pillars” for automotive applications is a process called hot-stamping.

Leadership for the project, “Quenching and Partitioning Process Development to Replace Hot Stamping of High-Strength Automotive Steel,” is being provided by TMS members David Matlock and John Speer of CSM’s Advanced Steel Processing and Products Research Center. In addition to Kester Clarke, Los Alamos researchers Amy Clarke and Robert Hackenberg, both also TMS members, are contributing to the effort, as well as industrial partners AK Steel, General Motors Corporation, Nucor Steel, Severstal, Toyota, and United States Steel Corporation.

Specialized equipment at Los Alamos, such as a quench dilatometer, will be used to provide critical details about phase transformations during heating and cooling. This will, in turn, guide the development of steel compositions and thermal processing routes. Advanced microstructure characterization techniques, including electron microscopy, neutron diffraction, and bulk thermal- and deformation-processing capabilities will be used to simulate industrial-scale processing.

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