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Innovation

Aluminum Alloy Casting Research and Development – Eck Industries

Leading The Way

Eck Industries is known for innovation and developing methods to cast challenging alloys and components. In 2011, Eck was awarded the 2011 Casting of the Year by the American Foundry Society and 2013, the Metalcaster of the Year by Modern Casting magazine.


High Temperature Alloy Development

The motivation for high performance aluminum alloys in engines has never been greater. Fuel economy standards are higher than ever, and are increasing to 2025 and beyond. Off the highway and even in the air, there is a desire to operate all engines on a common fuel, even if it means higher operational temperatures. Aircraft designers want long-lasting, lightweight and thermally stable engine operations.

Eck Industries teamed with the Oak Ridge National Lab and the Critical Material Institute to develop a high temperature-grade aluminum alloy that is particularly well-suited for engine cylinder heads, including the aircraft heads with the notoriously long, thin fins. Why? “Most alloys with exceptional properties are more difficult to cast, said David Weiss, Vice President Engineering / R&D at Eck Industries, “but the aluminum-cerium alloy has equivalent casting characteristics to the aluminum-silicon, the 300 series alloys.”

The unique additive to the alloy is cerium, a rare earth element that is plentiful, and is low cost. The addition of cerium forms an intermetallic that is stable at up to 2000 degrees F (1093C), making the alloy stable at temperatures as high as 300C.


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In addition to the high mechanical properties at elevated temperatures, this alloy is low density, even lower than pure aluminum. The density of the common A356 is 2.68 g/cc, whereas Al-Ce-Mg is 2.49 g/cc; on a typical 20 pound automotive cylinder head, this means a reduction of 1.4 lbs of aluminum mass.


CASE STUDY:
On a commercial engine, a generator, the team developed a cylinder head using 3D-printed sand and then tested the engine on a dynamometer. The cylinder head exhibited stable operation under full-load testing that reached exhaust temperatures as high as 600C.


CASTING PROCESS:

  • ✔ Sand casting, including 3D-printed sand
  • ✔ Permanent mold
  • ✔ Die casting is in development

HOW TO PURCHASE AL-CE ALLOY:
The alloy is available for purchase in ingot form, or castings can be purchased from Eck Industries.


TECHNICAL REFERENCE:
“Cerium-Based, Intermetallic-Strengthened Aluminum Casting Alloy: High-Volume Co-product Development,” D. Weiss et al, JOM, DOI 10.1007/s11837-016-1943-9, 2016


CONTACT:
David Weiss, Vice President of Engineering / R&D, david.weiss@eckindustries.com, (920) 682-4618 e.108.

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