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Metal Casting Technologies : March 2009
BRIEFINGS America and Australia are using the opportunity of the financial downturn to link industry support to green outcomes and this will help our industry in the longer term. However, I am concerned the impact on manufacturing will occur faster than this government support can be activated. Companies are already suffering and there will be a considerable time lag between beginning work on new technologies and their ultimate implementation. On the other hand, the Australian research base may benefit as we have a world leading group of light metals and materials research centres and a number of unique technologies that will be called upon. What will be important for Australia is that demand for our research capability and technologies is linked to Australian companies within the supply chain.” Metals, the Defence Materials Technology Centre, and three co-operative research centres (CRCS) – CAST CRC, CRC for Advanced Composite Structures and the Polymers CRC. The centre will provide the critical mass of diverse expertise that is needed to efficiently invent new manufacturing technologies and products. It will foster an integrated multi-materials approach to research and development. Artists’ impression of the Queensland Centre for Advanced Materials Processing and Manufacturing (AMPAM). Professor St John said that with his new role at the AMPAM, Australian industry will gain a new competitive edge from the University of Queensland- based centre which is being purpose built to pioneer advanced materials and manufacturing processes. Products ranging from rockets to heart stents will be developed at the Centre in which the Queensland Government’s Smart State Innovation Building Fund invested $15 million when the Premier Anna Bligh, gave the green light to the $40 million centre. AMPAM will consolidate Australia’s best materials processing research by combining scientists and engineers from UQ, the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Design in Light 16 www.metals.rala.com.au “By combining metals such as titanium, magnesium and aluminium, with polymers, ceramics and composites, we can create lightweight, heat-resistant products that are both cost-competitive and kinder to the environment” said Professor St John. He went on to say, “Innovations in products as different as rocket structures, car engines and cardiac stents could emerge from this centre within its first few years,” AMPAM will have an important role in education and training, creating a pipeline of Queensland-educated materials science professionals. The centre will come with a new professorial chair, financial support for PhD students, a postdoctoral fellowship and will provide up-skilling opportunities for TAFE graduates. The centre is scheduled to open in 2011. Alcoa claims aluminium- intensive vehicles fuel efficient, safe and affordable The Aluminium Association in the US recently conducted a conference with the theme, reinventing the Automobile – A Global Change. The pressures to improve vehicle fuel efficiency and the potential impact of that pressure on safety were discussed. The session requested strategies for improving fuel economy without sacrificing the tremendous gains that have been made in safety in recent years. Size, not weight, is the best determinant of vehicle safety it was claimed and that aluminium is very effective at reducing weight without compromising safety: Pairing an aluminium structure with advanced powertrains like hybrids magnifies fuel savings. Aluminium is becoming an increasingly attractive option for improving fuel economy as powertrains become more sophisticated. Crisis bodes well for electric cars The global recession will lead to increased technological innovation in the auto industry. The next five years is likely to see the rapid development and deployment of new vehicle technology in the context of favorable policies taking shape in the United States, Europe, China and Israel. While the global recession, credit crunch and low oil prices will act to slow investment across the economy, aggressive industry policy to support “electrification” of road transport will help cushion manufacturers of electric and other highly efficient vehicles from the recession’s effects. A major problem with electric and hydrogen powered vehicles is refueling away from an established network. This has limited the range of electric vehicles and stunted consumer demand. Combining a plug-in electric motor capable of comfortably covering city commuting (up to 100 kilometers) with a backup combustion engine (also capable of using biofuels) for longer journeys solves this problem. This is why the plug-in hybrid has to date been more successful than 100% EVs. See our technology feature starting on page 18. ¦ Subscription winner Congratulations to Mr Bill Reynolds from Tasmet Systems in Australia who is the winner of our Special Renewal Offer for March 2009 renewals. Bill will receive a complimentary one year subscription to Metal Casting Technologies Asia Pacific magazine.