The United States Automotive Materials Partnership (USAMP-AMD), as part of the
United States Council for Automotive Research (USCAR), recently began a new Structural
Cast Magnesium Development (SCMD) project that will focus on resolving critical
issues that limit the large-scale application of structural cast magnesium castings
in automotive components.

Project chairman Richard Osborne, of General Motors, said that the five-year
$US10 million project activities "will focus on developing the technology
necessary to cast and implement a front cast magnesium structural cradle."

The choice of a chassis component provides many challenges for the project
team to overcome.

Key
manufacturing issues include the production of high integrity castings (high-pressure
die, semisolid, low pressure, squeeze, etc.) and appropriate joining methods.

Harsh service environments create significant material challenges including
erosion/corrosion issues and stress-relaxation concerns.

The objectives of the SCMD project are:

  • Improve understanding of cast magnesium alloys
  • Develop a cost model that compares cast magnesium chassis component cost
    to alternative materials and processing techniques
  • Provide comprehensive database and design guidelines
  • Improve cast component integrity
  • Identify and/or develop methods to improve corrosion resistance
  • Develop accurate Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) for design and
    manufacturing of chassis-type components
  • Improve dissimilar material joining technologies
  • Transfer knowledge and lessons learned to industry

This project, sponsored cooperatively through USAMP-AMD and the Department
of Energy through a Cooperative Research And Development Agreement (CRADA),
involves a number of research entities including the Lawrence Livermore, Oak
Ridge and Sandia national laboratories, General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler,
35 light metal suppliers, the University of Windsor, Georgia Institute of Technology
and Alfred University.

Osborne said that there is a multitude of benefits to be gained from this research.

For instance, vehicle mass savings for ground and air transportation
leading to a reduction in fuel consumption and emissions, increased recyclability,
and less dependence on foreign oil.

Car makers in the United States are under increasing pressure to reduce CO2
emissions and increase federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.

The
ability to significantly increase magnesium usage could help the car industry
meet future CAFE targets and reduce noncompliance penalties.

The North American vehicle industry currently uses approximately 70,000 tonnes
of magnesium a year, about 3.5 kilograms per vehicle.

Cast magnesium structures have the potential to reduce 100 kilograms of vehicle
mass, which could reduce emissions by 5 percent and increase fuel economy by
about 1.0 mpg.

This magnesium project comes on the heels of a successful, five-year, $US 10million
cast light metal programme that focused primarily on cast aluminium research
and was recently completed by the same team.

USAMP functions under the umbrella of USCAR – a cooperative of DaimlerChrysler,
Ford and GM established in 1992.

The purpose of USCAR is to assist the domestic vehicle industry with pre-competitive
research.


To view related research reports, please follow the links
below:-

Aluminium
and Magnesium in European Light Vehicles

PriceWaterhouseCoopers
Global Supplier Report