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Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have demonstrated an additive manufacturing (3D printing) method to control the structure and properties of metal components with precision unmatched by conventional manufacturing processes.
Ryan Dehoff, staff scientist and metal additive manufacturing lead at the Department of Energy’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL, recently presented the research in an invited presentation at the Materials Science & Technology 2014 conference in Pittsburgh.
We can now control local material properties, which will change the future of how we engineer metallic components. This new manufacturing method takes us from reactive design to proactive design. It will help us make parts that are stronger, lighter and function better for more energy-efficient transportation and energy production applications such as cars and wind turbines.——Ryan Dehoff
The researchers demonstrated the method using an ARCAM electron beam melting system (EBM), in which successive layers of a metal powder are fused together by an electron beam into a three-dimensional product. By manipulating the process to manage precisely the solidification on a microscopic scale, the researchers demonstrated 3-dimensional control of the microstructure, or crystallographic texture, of a nickel-based part during formation.
Crystallographic texture plays an important role in determining a material’s physical and mechanical properties. Applications from microelectronics to high-temperature jet engine components rely on tailoring of crystallographic texture to achieve desired performance characteristics.
We’re using well established metallurgical phenomena, but we’ve never been able to control the processes well enough to take advantage of them at this scale and at this level of detail. As a result of our work, designers can now specify location specific crystal structure orientations in a part.—Suresh Babu, the University of Tennessee-ORNL Governor’s Chair for Advanced Manufacturing
Other contributors to the research are ORNL’s Mike Kirka and Hassina Bilheux; University of California Berkeley’s Anton Tremsin; and Texas A&M University’s William Sames.
The research was supported by the Advanced Manufacturing Office in DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy./p>
Ryan Dehoff et al. (2014) Processing Science Related to the Electron Beam Melting Additive Manufacturing
New analysis by Lux Research shows that carbon fiber demand will grow at an overall 13% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 36,000 tons in 2013 to 86,000 tons in 2020. In parallel, CFRP demand will also grow at 13% CAGR, from $15.4 billion in 2013 to $35 billion in 2020 as the volumes of CFRP grow to 183,000 tons.
The overall outlook for CFRP market growth is in line with Lux’s previous 2012 forecast, though demand in the wind sector will be smaller and in the automotive larger than previously anticipated. Wind carbon fiber demand will reach just 22,000 MT, compared to the 2012 forecast of 53,000 MT. This is driven by a decreased growth rate for off-shore turbines, where CFRP’s value proposition is greatest and a general lack of momentum for CFRPs in the more established on-shore market.
In contrast, initial launches of CFRPs in automotive now promise somewhat faster growth than previously expected, to $6 billion in 2020 (compared to $2.6 billion in Lux’s 2012 forecast).
By 2020, the automotive market will use more CFRP than the aerospace industry, although the revenue associated with automotive remains lower as the CFRP fibers, resins and process technology used are less demanding.
Better than expected sales of models such as the BMW i series have accelerated adoption, primarily in structural components where high temperature performance or Class A finish are not required. Beyond 2020, the onset of mainstream adoption in automotive will drive volumes that will dwarf other industries, but companies wanting a piece of that action will need to be positioned before the inflexion point in the market, or pay a massive premium to buy in late, the research firm said.
Despite solid incumbents in this industry, there is plenty of room for materials and process developers to bring value. Numerous start-ups, academic labs, and government groups are developing improved CFRP technology, but these groups are heavily focused on intermediate and final composite part production, with few working on fiber production, sizing, and recycling, where there are also significant unmet needs, according to Lux.
Graphene 3D Lab Inc., which develops, manufactures, and markets proprietary graphene-based nanocomposite materials for various types of 3D printing, including fused filament fabrication, has developed a 3D printable graphene battery. CEO Daniel Stolyarov, presented the prototype 3D printable graphene battery at the Inside 3D Printing Conference in Santa Clara, CA last week.
Graphene 3D Labs combines graphene nanoplatelets with thermoplastics used in FFF (fused filament fabrication) 3D printing, ultimately resulting in a functionalized 3D printing filament offering electrical conductivity. Currently, the process requires the separate printing of individual components—i.e., cathode, anode, electrolyte. However, a true multi-material 3D printer would enable the printing of the entire battery in one single print, the company notes.
Graphene 3D Lab recently submitted a provisional application for a patent to the US Patent and Trademark Office for recent innovations in the materials and methods of 3D printable batteries.
The application filed by Graphene 3D has the potential to play an important role in achieving the ability to print electronic devices due to the necessity of providing a power source. Expanding our IP portfolio in this area is an important step in keeping with Graphene 3D’s primary goal of creating an ecosystem for 3D printing functional devices with advanced materials.—Daniel Stolyarov
The graphene-enhanced materials that have been developed by the company allow the 3D printing process to be used to fabricate a functioning battery which may be incorporated into a 3D printed object during the build process. A demonstration is in the video below. The prototype currently reaches the same voltage as a commercially available AA battery.Shufflebox Productions, LLC on Vimeo. Click to enlarge.
The company says that its 3D printed graphene battery potentially could outperform a conventional battery because the shape, size and specifications can be freely adjusted to fit the particular design of a device. Graphene 3D envisions printing batteries on demand and in remote locations, using the technology to 3D print supercapacitors that can be recharged much faster than the conventional battery, or printing batteries that are incorporated in the body of car.
Researchers in Sweden are exploring the use of carbon fiber as an active electrode in a multifunctional structural Li-ion battery in an electric car; i.e., electrical storage is incorporated into the body of the car. Carbon fiber material is a good candidate for structural electrodes since it has high specific tensile stiffness and ultimate tensile strength (UTS) as well as high lithium (Li)-intercalation capability. (Earlier post.)
The concept of such a multifunctional structural vehicle battery has attracted a great deal of other research interest from a range of organizations, including Volvo Cars and the US Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E), which awarded a total of $8.75 million to four separate projects (led by Stanford University, UC San Diego, Arizona State University, and Penn State) to develop multifunctional structural batteries for vehicles as part of its RANGE program for transformative EV storage. (Earlier post.)
Graphene 3D has three US patent applications pending for its technology.
The UK government and Innovate UK—theTechnology Strategy Board are providing £15 million ($24 million) for the latest competition to encourage technologies for road-vehicles that will deliver significant reductions in CO2 emissions. The UK’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) has committed £11 million (US$18 million) while Innovate UK is providing £4 million (US$6 million). Innovate UK is seeking proposals that have at their core either one or more of the following Automotive Council strategic technologies:
Proposals can also include other highly disruptive technologies, which will significantly accelerate the reduction of CO2 beyond that achieved through standard product development cycles.
The technology may have initially been developed on non-road platforms, or for other types of transport, but will be eligible for this competition provided it has a clear and demonstrable exploitation route for road-going vehicles.
Proposals must be collaborative and business-led. Innovate UK expects to fund mainly industrial research projects in which a business partner will generally attract up to 50% public funding for their project costs (60% for SMEs).
Projects are expected to range in size from total costs of £500,000 to £2 million (US$804,000 to $3 million).
Williams, Williams Partners L.P., and Access Midstream Partners, L.P. announced that Williams Partners and Access Midstream Partners have reached and entered into a merger agreement; total transaction value is approximately $50 billion. Williams owns controlling interests in the two master limited partnerships (MLP). The merged MLP will feature large-scale positions across three key components of the midstream sector, including natural gas pipelines, gathering and processing and natural gas liquids and petrochemical services.
Natural Gas Pipelines. Transco, Northwest and Gulfstream represent the US’ premier interstate pipeline network. Transco is the nation’s largest and fastest-growing pipeline system.
Gathering and Processing. Large-scale positions in growing natural-gas supply areas in major shale and unconventional producing areas, including the Marcellus, Utica, Piceance, Four Corners, Wyoming, Eagle Ford, Haynesville, Barnett, Mid-continent and Niobrara. Additionally, the merged MLP’s business would include oil and natural gas gathering services in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.
Natural Gas Liquids and Petrochemical Services. Unique downstream presence on the Gulf Coast and in western Canada provides differentiated long-term growth.
Upon completion of the merger, expected to occur by early 2015, the principals anticipate the merged MLP to be one of the largest and fastest growing MLPs with expected 2015 adjusted EBITDA of approximately $5 billion, industry-leading 10% to 12% annual limited partner unit distribution growth rate through the 2017 guidance period and with expected strong growth beyond.
This is another big step toward our goal of becoming the leading natural gas infrastructure provider in North America. The combination of Access Midstream Partners’ intense focus on natural gas gathering with Williams Partners’ broader service offerings along the value chain is yielding even more robust growth opportunities. —Williams’ CEO Alan Armstrong
Williams, headquartered in Tulsa, Okla., is one of the leading energy infrastructure companies in North America. Williams Partners L.P. owns and operates both on-shore and offshore assets of approximately 15,000 miles of natural gas gathering and transmission pipelines, 1,800 miles of NGL transportation pipelines, an additional 11,000 miles of oil and gas gathering pipelines and numerous other energy infrastructure assets. The partnership’s operated facilities have daily gas gathering capacity of approximately 11 billion cubic feet, processing capacity of approximately 7 billion cubic feet, NGL production of more than 400,000 barrels per day and domestic olefins production capacity of 1.35 billion pounds of ethylene and 90 million pounds of propylene per year.
Access Midstream Partners, L.P. owns and operates natural gas midstream assets across nine states, with an average net throughput of approximately 3.9 billion cubic feet per day and more than 6,495 miles of natural gas gathering pipelines.