A joint round table dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the National Aviation Academy was held between the Azerbaijan Engineering Academy and “Azeraluminium” LLC on the topic “Modern aluminum alloys for aerospace equipment”.
AZERTAC reports that academician Ahad Janahmadov, vice-president of the Azerbaijan Engineering Academy, said at the opening of the event that aluminum is mainly used in the form of alloys in the aviation industry. Plates made of aluminum alloys are used to make both the inner frame and the outer frame of the aircraft. Airplanes use aluminum plates with a thickness between 3.3 and 0.25 millimeters.
He pointed out that aluminum alloys combine features such as low density, high strength, corrosion resistance, pressure, welding and cutting technology capabilities. Due to its high impact strength, aluminum alloys are the most important structural material in the aviation industry. 2/3 of airplanes are made of aluminum alloys. Thus, the correct use of this material helps to increase the level of technical operation and the working time and reliability of aviation equipment. The world’s largest aircraft manufacturers prefer aluminum because of its unique properties. It is 3 times lighter than steel and cheaper than titanium. The speed of mechanical processing of aluminum alloys is higher than that of steel counterparts (4-6 times), and plate materials made of aluminum alloys are much cheaper than carbon composites.
“Adding about 4 percent copper and 1.5 percent magnesium to aluminum, together with thermal treatment, allows to increase the strength of pure aluminum by 10 times. In addition, aluminum products are easily processed and subjected to deep processing. Metal products with modern 3D-printing technology are already successfully applied in engine production. This paves the way for the use of aluminum printed parts in aircraft. Additive technologies allow the use of unusual aluminum materials that cannot be obtained from traditional processing technologies,” A. Janahmadov said.
According to him, the creation and application of new materials will expand the use of aluminum in the aviation industry. Researchers and designers are also making new discoveries in alloys, deformation and heat treatment technologies.
The vice-president of the Academy concluded his opinion and noted that aluminum has great prospects. Although its main competitor is polymer composite materials, in the future aluminum will maintain its position in the aviation field for a long time.
Maksim Javadov, general director of “Azeraluminium” LLC, academician of the Azerbaijan Engineering Academy, who spoke later, said that the program for the production of modern aluminum-lithium (Al-Li) alloys began in the late 1970s and is one of the largest programs in the history of aluminum alloy production. has been at that time, studies were carried out to assess whether improvements had a greater effect on the specific weight of efficiency indicators. These studies have shown that the decrease in density has a greater effect on weight reduction than the increase in strength and stiffness, as well as the properties of the material against cracks. In this regard, lithium, as the lightest metal, turned out to be the most promising from the point of view of reducing the density of aluminum and, accordingly, reducing the weight characteristics.
Maksim Javadov noted that although the development of Al-Li alloys began in the 1970s, a fundamental understanding of these alloys was formed only in the 1990s, which enabled the development of Al-Li 3rd generation alloys, a family of alloys with excellent engineering properties. The development of third-generation alloys made it possible to achieve a density increase of 2-8 percent compared to traditional 2XXX (Al-Cu) and 7XXX (Al-Zn-Mg-Cu) aluminum alloys. This has resulted in significant weight savings, which have been complemented by higher specific stiffness and strength effects and the use of more efficient technologies including laser beam welding and friction stir welding (SFG).
“Third-generation aluminum alloys are in tough competition with traditional aluminum alloys, carbon fiber composites and metal-fiber laminates in all aerospace applications, especially in air transport. This competition involves many other factors besides weight savings. Some of the third-generation Al-Li alloys are already used in aerospace structures, including civil and military aircraft and spacecraft (launchers). Examples include AA 2297 and AA 2397 alloys used in the Lockheed Martin F-16, as well as the spacecraft’s superlight outer tank. Thus, the alloys of the Al-Li system, despite their higher cost and some technological difficulties, have great prospects for aerospace engineering products due to their obvious advantages in terms of weight efficiency, first of all, it concerns the specific compression stiffness,” says MMC- the general director stressed.
Academician M. Javadov noted that over the past decades, the alloys of the 7XXX system have been constantly increasing their exceptional strength properties. But in addition to this, the specific hardness did not increase, and even slightly decreased. The use of Al-Li alloy alone allowed to significantly increase the specific strength due to the decrease in density and at the same time to significantly increase the amount of the specific modulus due to both the decrease in density and the increase in the modulus of elasticity.
According to him, in recent years, scientists have developed the third-generation modern high-strength and high-resource B-1461, B-1469, B-1480 and B-1481 aluminum-lithium alloys, which surpass foreign analogues in terms of their characteristics and are widely used in the aviation industry. 1163 and V95 are considered alternatives to the main structural aluminum alloys used. The third generation of aluminum-lithium alloys lacks the shortcomings of its predecessors due to the selection of optimal concentrations of alloying elements and the development of deformation and heat treatment technologies that provide increased flexibility and improved structure of semi-finished products. For example, B-1469 and B-1480 alloys exceed all existing wrought aluminum alloys by 7-15 percent in specific strength and at the same time have high corrosion resistance, crack resistance and fatigue life. The V-1481 alloy has very high fracture toughness and crack resistance properties, exceeding the properties of the 1163 alloy traditionally used for fuselage welding by 10-15 percent: “I am sure that aluminum-lithium alloys, together with other new generation materials, will not lag behind their counterparts in flight characteristics will allow to create competitive aircraft.
In recent years, the production of aluminum products has already started in Azerbaijan. Among them, “Azerbaijan Industrial Corporation” LLC (ASK), “Azeraluminium” LLC and the German company “Achenbach Alpha GmbH” signed an agreement on the establishment of a joint venture (JV) and the construction of a plant for the production of aluminum products. “Achenbach Buschhütten GmbH” president and CEO Andre Barten noted that within the two phases of the project, it is planned to increase the production of aluminum products to 105,000 tons per year.
Javadov pointed out that the total investment cost of the project is estimated at 451.2 million dollars, and it is planned to invest 132 million dollars in the first stage. Agreements on the creation of a joint venture and the implementation of an industrial project in Ganja will help increase the export of competitive aluminum products to Europe, the United States and other countries around the world. During this time, within the framework of the modernization program, “Azeraluminum” imports the components necessary for production and at the same time increases the export of products. Thus, the first batches of anode blocks from China were brought to Azerbaijan recently by the order of MMC, and in total, 30,000 such blocks are planned to be supplied this year. At the same time, due to the favorable market conditions, in January-May 2022, “Azeraluminum” exported various rolled products and other products worth 86.6 million US dollars, which, according to the Center for Analysis and Communication of Economic Reforms, was more than last year. compared to the same period, it is 81 percent more.
In conclusion, the general director of “Azeraluminium” LLC said that aluminum has great prospects and research potential. This, in turn, creates ample opportunities for cooperation with scientists and specialists of the National Aviation Academy and Azerbaijan Engineering Academy in the future. Aluminum, as a precious metal, has received the name “winged metal” due to its lightness, various properties and unique qualities. It means serving people to bear the name “winged metal”.