Wednesday, November 14, 2018

News: From Australia to Rotherham, Metalysis produces high value alloy

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Rotherham-based Metalysis has produced a high value aluminium-scandium alloy as part of a pioneering R&D programme. It is expected to now be created on an industrial scale to support a drive for lighter materials in the automotive and aerospace industries.

The Manvers company holds the worldwide exploitation rights to a process which sees specialist powder metals created in a simple, cost effective process with significant environmental benefits.

Backed by investors, experts at the multimillion pound Materials Discovery Centre on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, are carrying out bespoke, commercial R&D projects to produce exotic metal powders for high performance alloys in the aerospace and automotive industries.

Progress on the aluminium-scandium ("AlSc") alloy programme shows that the Metalysis' process could address challenges that have historically restricted the industrial use of scandium despite its excellent properties.

Scandium is a relatively scarce, high-value mineral used to produce aluminium alloys. Scandium-reinforced alloys are suitable for the manufacture of weldable aluminium products such as car chassis, car panels and aircraft fuselages and other light transport applications.

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Metal exploration business, Australian Mines Ltd, has provided a high purity scandium oxide from its Sconi site in North East Australia and Metalysis has now qualified it as a feedstock for next-generation scandium alloy.

The findings are set to benefit Metalysis' Materials Manufacturing Centre in Manvers, which houses its "Generation 4" industrial scale production facility.

Earlier this year the firm raised £12m ahead of the start of commercial production which began in September and means that it can now produce tens-to-hundreds of tonnes per annum of high value, niche and master alloys.

Ian Mellor, managing director of Metalysis' Materials Discovery Centre, said: "We are pleased by the rapid progress made during first phase R&D with Australian Mines. The provision of high quality scandium oxide from the Sconi project has enabled our teams to make a strong start and quickly complete proof-of-principle activities for the alloy feedstock addition using Metalysis' process.

"We look forward to reporting results to come as, together, we target the development of a high value AlSc alloy in sync with Australian Mines' production plans for Sconi, and Metalysis' production plans for Generation 4."

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Benjamin Bell, managing director at Australian Mines, added: "I am delighted that we have continued to make progress in our work with Metalysis and explore the potential to unlock additional economic value from scandium oxide to be produced at Sconi.

"By being involved in full end-to-end production this represents an appealing value proposition for our investors as opposed to the more typical mining and shipping ore approach. The fact that our scandium oxide product has been verified as meeting the specifications required to produce a master alloy puts us in an extremely strong position in our negotiations with potential scandium oxide off-take partners."

The technology presents opportunities to reduce all-in costs and environmental footprints compared to traditional, melting production routes. The Metalysis technology produces metal powder directly from oxide using electrolysis.

Metalysis website

Images: Metalysis

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