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New graphene-reinforced aluminum matrix nanocomposites with tensile and yield strengths 25% and 58% higher than pristine aluminum

29 May 2014

Researchers at the Beijing Institute of Aeronautical Materials have successfully synthesized graphene-reinforced aluminum matrix nanocomposites through ball milling and powder metallurgy. The average tensile strength and yield strength of the nanocomposite are 454 MPa and 322 MPa, respectively—25% and 58% higher than the pristine aluminum alloy at a nanofiller mass fraction of 0.3%, while the ductility increases slightly.

The tensile strength and yield strength of graphene-reinforced aluminum matrix nanocomposites are remarkably enhanced by adding graphene nanoflakes (GNFs), they reported in their paper in the Journal of Materials Engineering.

Importantly, the ductility properties are remained excellently, which is firstly found in the second phase reinforced metal matrix nanocomposites. The microstructures were observed by OM, SEM and TEM method. … The results show that graphene nanoflakes are effectively dispersed and well consolidate with aluminum matrix, however, chemical reactions are not observed. The original structured characteristics of graphene nanoflakes are preserved very well. The relevant mechanisms of strengthening and toughening enhancement are discussed on the base of 2D and wrinkled structured properties of graphene nanoflakes.

—Yan et al.

An earlier study by a team from the US Army Benét Laboratories, Rice University, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute fabricated graphene-aluminum nanocomposites and found that multi-walled carbon nanotubes can increase the tensile strength of aluminum by up to ∼12%. However, they also found that that the graphene was prone to forming aluminum carbide during processing, which lowered the hardness and tensile strength of aluminum.

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If it can be done at low cost, aluminium could play a major role in future lighter Electrified longer lasting vehicles.

It could become a way to almost double PHEVs and BEVs e-range with the same batteries. The same could apply to future FCEVs.

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