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Extrusion for greener aluminum production

Researchers from Lehigh and the Technical University (TU) of Dortmund in Germany are investigating new methods of recycling aluminum chips to improve the economics of aluminum recovery. The group has found that the use of special extrusion dies improves the metal's mechanical properties.

Aluminum recycling has become big business since its inception a century ago. Nearly a third of the aluminum produced in the United States is made from aluminum scraps that have been recycled in a process—usually remelting—that uses only 5 to 10 percent of the energy it takes to extract aluminum from mined bauxite ore.

But there are limitations to the remelting of aluminum, says Wojciech Misiolek, the director of Lehigh’s Institute for Metal Forming and the Loewy Chair in Materials Forming and Processing. These include metal loss, the introduction of contamination and impurities, and the sheer energy-intensive nature of the process.

“We are trying to understand the critical conditions necessary to guarantee the good bonding of chips,” says Misiolek. “Our goal is to control the microstructure and improve the mechanical properties of the aluminum.”

Read the full story at the Lehigh Universtiy News Archive.

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