Scandium, aluminium and the brave new world…
How can Scandium positively affect the aerospace industry when used as an alloy with Aluminium?
Scandium was first used in aircraft by the Soviet Union during the cold war.
The Russians produced Scandium Oxide from various sources and supplied to the military. The Scandium oxide was then developed and used in lightweight, high-performance AlMgLi-Sc materials for MIG 29 fighter jets which first entered service in 1985 being used in components such as nose cones, missiles, engines, wings, etc.
Aluminium has been critical to aerospace from the first flight to improve performance by reducing weight
1903 – The Wright Flyer
Although the Wright Flyer I was made mainly out of wood, in order to make the engine light enough, it had an aluminium crankcase.
1915 – First Metal Aircraft
Duralumin was used to build the first all-metal plane, the Junkers J1, developed in 1915 by Hugo Junkers, the famous German aircraft designer.
1920s – The Golden Age of Aviation
Al production became much cheaper allowing aluminium alloys to become the mainstream material for aerospace development
1930s – New Streamlined Aircraft
A new streamlined aircraft shape emerged, enabled because of the use of Aluminium.
The Modern Era – Boing 737
The best -selling commercial jet airliner in history, the Boeing 737, was launched in 1967, using mainly the Al2000 series aluminium alloy.
Today – Al 2024/Al 7075
Until now the most widely used aluminium alloy in aerospace is Al2024 although there has been further refinement.
The future – AlSc AlLi Composites
Nowadays, the focus is on improved emissions. Boeing and Airbus continue to work on new aluminium alloys such as AlLi or AlSc which promise even greater weight reduction and efficiency improvements. High-strength Aluminium alloys remain key airframe materials.
Example – AIRBUS A320
- Operating empty weight (OEW) – approx. 40mt
- 10% weight reduction using Aluminium-Scandium
- 4mt of aircraft weight eliminated
- Anticipation that every 1kg reduction results in 4000 litres of fuel-saving over the entire lifetime of the aircraft – or 16 million litres of fuel.
Alongside aviation, scandium is used in –
- Solid-state fuel cells
- Sports Equipment
- Automotive industry
- Welding wire
- Metal halide lighting
As a resource, Scandium is mainly produced as a co-product alongside other ores. However, the use of Scandium is limited by price due to this – a scandium mine is an expensive venture!
GSA Environmental has developed significant expertise in recovering Sc2O3 from titanium dioxide manufacturing plants; patenting their techniques as a ZERO WASTE OPTION. Recovering the scandium, vanadium, niobium as oxides, iron as goethite, aluminium and titanium hydroxides and in some cases also producing gypsum.
GSAe hydrometallurgy is much lower in capital and operating costs; as well as utilising what would otherwise be another landfilled waste material.
For further information and insight please contact Michael Grimley (firstname.lastname@example.org).