University emissions project receives DOE funding

A Northwestern University project––including work by Dr. David Dunand, professor of materials science and engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering––is one of 30 selected for funding by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to reduce industrial emissions and manufacture clean energy technologies. 

Working with Boeing and AFS Corporate member Eck Industries, “Replacing Cerium with Energy-Efficient Mischmetal in Cast Aluminum Alloys for Aerospace Applications,” is receiving $500,000 of the $57.9 million funded by the DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office.

“An attractive domestic source for lanthanum comes from the phosphor coatings of fluorescent light bulbs, which are currently landfilled,” Dunand said. “Our research will enable the up-cycling of a waste product containing a rather exotic element, lanthanum. Also, these new aluminum-cerium-lanthanum alloys will replace heavier, and more expensive titanium alloys in high-temperature aerospace parts in Boeing aircrafts, thus increasing their efficiency over tens of millions of miles of flight.”

David Weiss, vice president of research and development at Eck Industries, said the ability to use mixed rare earths in aluminum alloys offers both commercial and technical advantages.

“Separation costs for the precursors can be reduced since it is no longer necessary to separate, for example, the cerium from the lanthanum,” Weiss said. “This reduces cost and makes the alloys more commercially viable. This program will also explore the potential for technical advantages of using mixed rare earths. Traces of heavier rare earths that may be present in mischmetal may improve high temperature strength or improve the toughness of the alloys. This is barely explored territory, and this program will open up new areas of application for these lightweight alloy systems.”