Metalysis, Rotherham, South Yorkshire, UK, has provided an update on its research into the development of aluminium-scandium (AlSc) alloys. According to the company, the progress of its R&D programme to date has affirmed its view that its solid-state alloy production process could address some of the challenges which have historically restricted the industrial use of scandium despite its excellent properties.
Cost and supply constraints are two of the challenges Metalysis has focused on. Scandium has strength and light-weighting characteristics which make it ideal for alloys of great interest to advanced manufacturing applications, including those in the aerospace and automotive industries. However, while there are primary production scenarios under development, it is currently mined largely as a by-product, with little surety of supply. As an alloy addition, scandium can as much as triple manufacturing costs at its current pricing.
In May 2017, Metalysis announced that it will use its modular electrochemical technology to produce a scandium-rich feedstock addition, supporting master alloy production. The process can produce a wide range of powder alloys at reportedly lower costs and with reduced environmental footprints compared to traditional melting processes. In H2 2017, Phase I proof-of-principle activities using Metalysis’ ‘Generation 1’ technology were said to have successfully produced the AlSc alloy feedstock addition, which is more than fifteen times higher in scandium content than the commonly available 2wt.% scandium master alloy and was produced at materially lower comparable costs.
In the first half of 2018, during Phase II, the company began qualifying scandium oxide to produce a high-value AlSc alloy feedstock from new sources as part of efforts to address global production and supply concerns. To continue to do this in the second half of 2018, Metalysis stated that it will partner with Australian Mines Ltd., West Perth, Australia, a company focused on the production and supply of battery and technology metals to global markets, and developing cobalt-scandium-nickel projects in Australia. Scandium oxide from the company’s Sconi project in Northern Queensland, Australia, will be evaluated and used for further AlSc alloy production.