Dr. Viola Acoff, associate professor of metallurgical and materials engineering, and Dr. Nagy El-Kaddah, professor of metallurgical and materials engineering, have had recent success in developing a model that accurately predicts how the microstructures of intermetallic compounds change when various welding parameters are used.
The University of Alabama research team has conducted studies on the effects that welding and post-weld heat treatment have on intermetallics, under a four-year, $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. They have successfully developed computer modeling that helps cut down on the trial and error that occurs with welding, reports Acoff. “We were successful in developing a model that accurately predicts the shape and size of the weld pool,” Acoff said, “and experimental results show that there is a good correlation between the actual welds and the computer predicted welds.”
“Our transmission electron microscopy work also identified some phases in the weld fusion zones that were not previously reported by any other researchers,” Acoff added. Their future work will include thoroughly characterizing and identifying these phases. The research was the basis for the dissertation of Dr. Mario Arenas, Acoff’s former graduate student, and two more students will join the team this year to pursue computer modeling and microscopy projects.
Stronger, lighter and able to withstand higher temperatures than traditional metals, intermetallic compounds are leading to more fuel efficient automobile engines and less costly space shuttle flights.
Acoff previously received international attention among materials experts for pinpointing a post-weld heat treatment temperature that would make titanium aluminide less brittle when welded.
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