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ACRC Selected For A Major Award To Develop Low Cost and Energy Efficient Methods for the Manufacture of Semi-Solid (SSM) Feedstock

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/September 25, 2001
Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass. - The Advanced Casting Research Center (ACRC) at Worcester Polytechnic Institute has been selected to receive a major award from the Department of Energy, Office of Industrial Technologies (Supporting Industries Program). Negotiations are under way for the procurement of this cooperative agreement, which is targeted to commence on September 31, 2001.

The industry-university collaborative research program involves WPI and many ACRC member companies: The title of the project is:


Principal Investigators: D. Apelian, M. M. Makhlouf, and A. M. de Figueredo

The budget for the project, which spans four years, totals $1,442,960. Half of the support will be supplied by DOE; the other half by the industry and university partners.

A brief abstract is given below.

The principal goal of the project is to develop and apply efficient grain refining methods to produce SSM billets with consistent characteristics at significantly lower cost premiums relative to methods currently in use (MHD stirring or slurry-on-demand). The second goal of this research is to carry computational and modeling studies of the fluid flow behavior of SSM slurries. Though much progress has been made at ACRC on this topic, issues related to control of instabilities still remain and case studies have to be developed. A third goal of this research is to establish methods and procedures to demonstrate and accurately quantify the energy and total cost savings realized with the adoption of simpler methods for SSM billet production compared to current methods.

The proposed project will have a significant impact on energy savings during metal casting. Considering the total primary aluminum consumption in 2000 (about 0.6 million ton), the energy expenditure per ton is about 133 million BTU. Assuming that efficient SSM methods will save at least 20% energy and an annual SSM production of 60,000 ton, yearly energy savings of about 1.6 trillion BTU/year could be realized in the near term. Possibly, by the end of the decade, more than 5 trillion BTU could be saved annually if the SSM production level reaches 200,000 ton/year. Those estimates do not include the additional energy savings resulting from increased fuel efficiency and other process benefits. Over a period of 10 years, a good estimate of energy savings, which can be realized from an efficient SSM process is 20 to 50 trillion BTU.