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Citrus Fruit Inspires Development of Aluminum Hybrid

Posted on: 01/17/2014
German researchers, inspired by the impact resistance inherent in pomelo peels, have developed an aluminum hybrid that could be used to optimize technical components and safety materials.

Pomelo fruits have a mass of one to two kilograms, but are able to withstand impact forces resulting from falls of more than 10 meters. The impact resistance is mainly due to the structure of the peel, which is made up of graded, fiber-reinforced foam.

Researchers from the Foundry Institute of the RWTH Aachen University and the Plant Biomechanics Group of the University of Freiburg have combined metals with different mechanical properties that reflect these naturally occurring structures to successfully mimic the strength of the pomelo peel. The composite exhibits a much higher tensile strength than pure aluminum, and a much higher ductility than aluminum-silicon alloy.

“The demands of designers and consumers on forthcoming components will be increased in the future,” said Sebastian F. Fischer of RWTH Aachen University, lead author of the study and TMS member. “The main reason for this is the need for energy-saving, light-weight products, especially in the automotive industry. These challenges can be met by enhanced material properties or composites. And while the development of new materials is increasingly difficult, the joining of different materials with different properties holds a lot of promise.”

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