A new aluminum alloy developed by Tesla, the US electric car maker, solves the problem that the material strength and conductivity are not enough. Tesla has developed a new aluminum alloy with high strength and conductivity that can be used in die-cast electric vehicle parts, according to a new patent for the company, according to professional electric vehicle media.
In the patent application, Tesla describes the aluminum alloy problem sought by them:
Commercial cast aluminum alloy can be divided into two categories, one is high strength, the other is high conductivity. For some applications, such as components inside an electric vehicle, such as a rotor or inverter, both high strength and high conductivity are required. In addition, forged alloys cannot be used because these electric vehicle components need to be formed through a casting process.
“We wanted to manufacture parts through the casting process so that they could be cast quickly and reliably, for example through high-pressure die-casting. After casting, suitable alloys must be fully maintained to meet the necessary applications. Poor castability of alloys often observes thermal tearing and can lead to filling problems, which often reduces the mechanical and electrical properties of end castings. Tesla wrote in the patent filing.
As a result, Tesla is trying to create high-strength and highly conductive alloys that are resistant to thermal tearing for use in die-casting drive unit components.
Tesla claims that its new aluminum alloy can be adjusted to 90 MPa to 150 MPa, conductivity can reach 40% IACS (International Annedised Copper Standard) to 60% IACS. In contrast, the Yield strength of the A356 aluminum alloy is greater than 175 MPa, but its conductivity is about 40% IACS. In contrast, the conductivity of the 100.1 aluminum alloy is greater than 48% IACS, but the yield strength is less than 50MPa.
They also claim that the new aluminum alloy can support die casting: “In one embodiment, the alloy has the appropriate fluidity to ensure proper forming, so that the alloy can resist thermal tearing and maintain the required yield strength when the casting solidifies.” In 2016, there were media reports that Tesla had partnered with rocket maker SpaceX to set up a materials engineering team to develop advanced new materials. At the time, Elon Musk, the company’s founder, hired Charles Kuehmann, Apple’s alloy expert, to lead the material engineering team.
Tesla says it has benefited from Space X’s high-tech manufacturing processes, such as the plate used by Space X to make the rocket’s aluminum fuel tank, and they apply their technology to cars.
Tesla’s materials engineering team has announced the development of new glass products that could be used in Tesla’s solar roof tiles, Tesla’s semi-autonomous vehicle trucks and Tesla Model 3 models.
Some analysts believe that from the Tesla Model S and Model X with a large number of aluminum can be seen that the new aluminum alloy material will be widely used in its products. At present, model 3 models are mainly steel-based. The super alloy will also be a focus for Tesla, which can be used on the battery housing contact pad for Tesla’s upgraded battery pack.