Project Overview

BACKGROUND

Due to their improved properties compared to traditional metals or polymers, composite materials are now used in several technologically advanced products. Recently, the products used have been carbon-based materials which, apart from delivering extremely good thermal properties, do not usually have a structural value in terms of mechanical properties, hindering stand-alone applications. However, when enclosed in metal envelopes, they could be used to form MMC (Metal Matrix Composite) parts which are significantly more durable and strong, delivering thus a breakthrough solution in this context. Nevertheless, due to the lack of satisfactory machining and manufacturing technologies, they cannot yet be implemented. So far, complicated and cost-intensive multi-part cooling systems have had to be applied, hindering a further functional integration or power increase. THERMACO aims at providing manufacturing technologies with extremely efficient solutions in heat evacuation based on Aluminium Metal Matrix Composites (Al-MMC) with Graphene-based inserts, applicable in many key technologies and products bolstering several sectors in Europe.

 

PROJECT OBJECTIVES

In order to tackle the identified challenges and critical problems, THERMACO will provide significant innovations and breakthrough solutions to achieve the following objectives:

  • Deliver knowledge-based design/layout guidelines for extremely efficient Aluminium Metal Matrix Composite parts with integrated carbon-based thermal highways
  • Develop reliable and efficient manufacturing technologies for Aluminium Metal Matrix Composites with integrated thermal highways including
    • Production strategies for Graphene-based thermal highway inserts to fulfil demands on dimensions, efficiency and handling
    • Placement and handling strategies for Graphene thermal highway integration into casting moulds
    • Detailed casting process simulation to enable reliable mould design
    • Investment and gravity casting process development using vibration assistance to enable Aluminium casting around thermal highway inserts without damage to the inserts
  • Develop design definitions for surface micro structures to ensure an optimal heat transfer from the heat source to the thermal highways
  • Develop optimal manufacturing processes for precision finish machining and surface structuring of Aluminium Metal Matrix Composite parts with carbon-based thermal highways including:
    • Precision cutting processes (milling, vibration assisted turning, turn-milling)
    • Electrochemical machining (ECM) processes to selectively uncover the thermal highways on the surface for optimized connection to the heat source
    • Electroerosive machining (EDM) processes to force-free machine surface microstructures for increased thermal conductivity
  • Deliver Life Cycle Analysis and environmental impact information on novel Aluminium Metal Matrix Composites with integrated carbon-based thermal highways
  • Develop complete process chain to manufacture composite parts with thermal highways and increased properties to enhance cooling efficiency by factor 20 (compared to standard Aluminium)
  • Secure and exploit intellectual property from generated knowledge to bolster competitiveness and market strength of consortium partners and European industry