Development of Niobium Boron grain retainer for aluminium silicon alloys
Grain refiner | Al-si alloys | Al-No-B master alloy
This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University
Aluminium castings with a large grain structure have poor mechanical properties which are primarily due to casting defects as opposed to fine grain structure. The grain refinement practice using chemical addition is well established for wrought alloys, however in the case of casting alloys, the practice of adding grain refiners and the impact on castability is not well established. The addition of well known Al-5Ti-B grain refiner to casting alloys with silicon (Si) content above 3 wt.% is not effective. This is believed to be due to the chemical reaction between Ti and Si. The current research aim is to find an alternative, but effective, chemical phase which can refine Al-Si alloy grains. Based on a crystallographic database search and intermetallic phases found in Aluminium–Niobium-Boron, there exists several iso-structural phases similar to those of Al3Ti and TiB2. We have selected a phase which exhibits chemical phase stability with Si (below 900 oC) and developed a potential novel grain refiner Nb-B for Al-Si cast alloys. Various Al-Si binary alloys and a commercial sourced LM6 (Al-10Si-Mg) cast alloys were cast after novel grain refiner addition to the melt. It is the first time that such fine grain structures were achieved for Al-Si alloys when Si >4wt.%. It is believed that Nb-B grain refiner enhances the heterogeneous nuclei in the melt. The effectiveness of this grain refiner under various cooling rate conditions is investigated to simulate various practical
casting conditions. Due to increased heterogeneous nuclei density, a fine grain structure is also obtained at low cooling rates and the grain size is less sensitive to the cooling rate. The processing of high Si containing alloys for complex shaped castings with reduced defects, fine grain structure and improved mechanical properties are now possible.
Isambard Research Scholarships.