Although light metal alloys containing magnesium are used in a wide range of everyday applications, the melting and casting of alloys containing high concentrations of magnesium can be challenging. This is due to magnesium’s high flammability. Once ignited magnesium is very difficult to extinguish with common fire-fighting approaches of water, nitrogen and carbon dioxide being ineffective.
Manufacturing such alloys requires specialised foundry equipment to prevent autoignition and runaway oxidation during melting and casting. BlueScope’s laboratory foundry does not have such capabilities and assistance was needed to cast small amounts of non-commercial alloys to support a medium-term research project.
By way of strong relationships in the collaborative research network established through participation in the ARC Research Hub for Australian Steel Manufacturing, BlueScope was aware that the University of Queensland (UQ) operated a light-metal foundry with the required capability. Having an existing research project at UQ with Professor Kazuhiro Nogita, BlueScope were able to access this foundry at short-notice. Working collaboratively with a small team consisting of members of Professor Nogita’s team and Dr Nega Setargew, a researcher from BlueScope, several experimental high magnesium alloy castings were produced. These alloys were subsequently assessed in BlueScope’s industrial environment enabling cost-effective and timely decisions regarding next steps.
This is an excellent example of research capacity building and problem solving through the development of active collaborative research networks and highlights the benefits of industry-academic collaboration facilitated by participation in the ARC Research Hub for Australian Steel Manufacturing.