City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has recently received funding worth RMB1.5 million (HKD1.85 million) from the Ministry of Science and Technology for the development of a new high-performance titanium alloy for the aeronautic, aerospace, transportation and biomedical engineering industries.
CityU will be responsible for developing the alloy and providing the relevant scientific data in this international collaboration project assigned by the Ministry. The production and performance tests on sample hardware will be conducted by the Precision Alloy Factory Co Ltd, the project partner based in Danyang City, Jiangsu Province. The project is expected to take two years.
“Titanium has been the most important metal to the world’s technological development over the last 20 years,” said Professor Liu Chain-tsuan, University Distinguished Professor and the project leader at CityU. “The higher the temperature that a material can withstand, the higher the thermal efficiency it will have. Scientists are working hard to develop metals that are light and resistant to high temperatures to reduce the weight of machines in order to save energy and lengthen the machines’ lifespans,” he said.
“Aluminium and titanium alloys are commonly used in industry, but aluminium alloy cannot withstand high temperatures whereas titanium alloys have high tensile strength and resistance to high temperatures and corrosion, making them suitable for various environments and temperatures. Therefore titanium alloy has become an important material in industrial development for the new generation,” he added.
Titanium alloy is widely used for building engines for spacecraft, aircraft and ships, as well as components for automobiles and bicycles, and building materials. It can also be used to make artificial joints for biomedical purposes and sports equipment like rackets and golf clubs.
The aim of the project was to improve the composition of the alloy and thermal processing technology, and increase the strength of titanium alloys from its current level of 1,000 MPa to range between 1,200 and 1,400 MPa, Professor Liu said. Another objective is to enhance its ductility from 5 to 10%. “Titanium alloys will become fragile when strengthened. Therefore we need to enhance its ductility and flexibility, and at the same time control production costs,” he added.
This is one of the projects spearheaded by the recently established Centre for Advanced Structural Materials at CityU. Professor Liu is a key member of the Centre. Five key research areas are highlighted in the Centre: pre-stressed engineering materials and devices, advanced bulk metallic glasses, radiation damage in reactor materials, advanced high-temperature metallic alloys, and new advanced composites.