QuesTek Innovations LLC has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to apply QuesTek's Materials by Design technology to design and develop a new high-strength, thermally-stable aluminum alloy. The 2-year contract is valued at $746,981.
The key objectives of this project are to design and develop a new alloy with greater strength than alloy 2014 at both room temperature and after high temperature exposure, in combination with corrosion and fatigue resistance, and also with manufacturing and raw material costs similar to incumbent alloy 2014. Although competing alloy 2040 offers higher strength than alloy 2014, it is sole-sourced and can be more expensive due in part to raw material costs associated with silver additions.
QuesTek will computationally design the new alloy for economy by using conventional aluminum alloying additions and processing techniques. In addition, QuesTek intends to eventually license intellectual property for the new alloy to multiple alloy producers in order to develop a robust supply base.
The new alloy is expected to reduce component weight, improve component durability and reduce operating costs. The culmination of this project will be the production of full-scale, die-forged prototype parts in order to demonstrate improvements in key material properties versus alloy 2014.
Potential applications of QuesTek's new aluminum alloy include aerospace wheel and brake assemblies as well as other aluminum products fabricated from forgings, such as structural components used in aerospace, commercial, racing and off-road vehicles.
Charlie Kuehmann, President and CEO of QuesTek, commented: "We thank the Air Force for this SBIR Phase II award, to further use our materials design tools and expertise to improve equipment durability and reduce costs. This project builds upon our past successes such as Ferrium C61, C64, M54 and S53 alloys, developed in part with Department of Defense funding and now sold to commercial, industrial and governmental customers by U.S.-based alloy producers under their licenses from QuesTek."