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Posted: May 21, 2012

Powdermet and Partners Plan to Replace Aluminum and Steel with Lightweight Nanocomposites

(Nanowerk News) Abakan Inc. has announced that Powdermet, a member of the Abakan group of companies, reports impressive progress on MComP™ nanocomposite metals commercialization, and enters into joint venture with Oshkosh Corp, Eck Industries, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) to further develop nanostructured high-strength light-weight metals.
Powdermet Inc. announces that it has made significant advancements to improve performance levels of its forged nanocomposite aluminum alloys. Working with the US Army and the National Science Foundation, Powdermet's MComP™ micro-nanocomposite aluminum alloys have achieved 30-50% higher ductility than state-of-the-art high strength aluminum alloys such as aluminum lithium. Powdermet has devised a powder metallurgy process allowing the retention of nanocrystallites and ductile reinforcing phases throughout the powder forging or extrusion process, resulting in high strength aluminum materials requiring minimal machining. Competing Aluminum Lithium high strength alloys have tensile strengths of 50-70ksi with up to 12% ductility, whereas nanocomposite materials fabricated from Powdermet's powders are showing 50-72ksi strength with up to 16% ductility. Powdermet has also shown nanocomposite aluminum alloys with up to 200ksi strengths with 1-2% ductility. MComPTM product development goals are to produce aluminum alloys having 100ksi strength with greater than 8% ductility without using expensive rare earth metals. Additional development goals include demonstrating thick cross-section part manufacturing using Powdermet's newly acquired multimillion dollar deformation processing equipment, including its unique small footprint 5,000 ton press. According to BCC Research report titled 'Lightweight Materials in Transportation'; the total global consumption of lightweight materials used in transportation equipment was 46.7 million tons/$95.5 billion in 2010. This market is expected to reach 67.7 million tons/$125.3 billion by 2015, increasing at a compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) of 7.7% in tonnage terms and 5.6% in value terms between 2010 and 2015. The new strict weight and fuel efficiency requirements in the automotive markets coupled with the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards are expected to add an additional $10-$20 billion in new market growth by 2015.
Powdermet is also pleased to announce it has joined a joint venture development team comprising Oshkosh Corp, an Oshkosh WI based specialty truck builder, Eck Industries Inc., a Manitowoc, WI based aluminum foundry; and with UW as the project leader, to develop and produce lighter, stronger aluminum and magnesium structural components "that will revolutionize the lightweight structures marketplace" by manufacturing high strength aluminum materials with the strength of steel, but at a much lower weight.
This joint venture will allow for wider adoption of ultra-light weight materials by greatly reducing the cost of these unique materials, and by taking their application from simple molded or machined parts into larger, complex metal castings. The work will expand on laboratory tests conducted by the UW that show that the incorporation of nanoparticles can greatly increase the performance of aluminum alloys at a lower cost than rare earth additions. However, due to their small size, nanoparticles are difficult to disperse homogeneously throughout a casting or billet, which is why Powdermet's expertise and capabilities have been brought into the partnership. "This joint venture opportunity further strengthens Powdermet's position at the forefront of nanotechnology, transitioning it into mainstream manufacturing of innovative technologies," stated Brian P. Doud, General Manager at Powdermet.
About Abakan Inc.
Abakan, Inc. is a publicly listed acquisition company that provides critical financial, management and intellectual support to innovative companies and technologies for realizing their true market potential. Abakan invests in companies that have developed transformational technologies on the cusp of commercialization. Abakan is the largest shareholder in MesoCoat and Powdermet, each of which is a nanotechnology material science company involved in technology development and commercialization. MesoCoat is focused on metal asset protection and life extension by providing advanced wear and corrosion solutions, while Powdermet is focused on metal formulations as well as advanced energy management solutions. MesoCoat was recently recognized by Forbes as one of 'The Most Promising American Companies' and was the highest ranked material science and nanotechnology company. MesoCoat is also the recipient of four prestigious R&D 100 awards, a Technology Innovation Program Award (TIP) for 100 year life coatings by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), two NorTech Innovation Awards for breakthrough materials and surface engineering solutions, and several other federal and state grants and awards. Powdermet is a nationally recognized nanotechnology and advanced materials research and development organization that has won approximately 100 federal and state awards, along with being a recipient of several technology innovation awards like R&D 100 and NorTech Innovation Award.
Source: Abakan (press release)
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