Audubon Metals to commercialize Ohio State green aluminum alloy technology

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The Ohio State University and Audubon Metals have entered into a licensing agreement to advance commercialization of technology that could increase manufacturing usage of recycled aluminum alloys, which cost half as much and require a fraction of the energy of mined alloys.

Alan Luo and Brian Hawkes shake hands during licensing agreement signing
Prof. Alan Luo (left) with Audubon Metals' Brian Hawkes at the Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence

Led by Alan Luo, professor of materials science and engineering and integrated systems engineering, a research team that includes graduate students and postdoctoral researchers has developed a way to produce secondary (recycled) aluminum alloy that meets the high standards of structural die casting applications.  

The automotive industry only uses primary aluminum produced from mining and smelting for structural applications, because secondary aluminum alloys include contaminants like iron that can result in inferior mechanical properties. But secondary aluminum alloys are up to 50% less expensive and use only a fraction of the energy compared to mined aluminum. 

Ohio State’s technology neutralizes iron contamination common in typical scrap aluminum, exhibiting mechanical properties of primary alloys currently used in die casting, a high-pressure manufacturing process that forces molten metal into a mold to produce large thin-wall components.     

“This technology that we developed will have a positive impact on the manufacturing industry and our environment, so we call it a green alloy,” said Luo. “It is exciting to see the technology we developed in the lab go to the marketplace. It also helps train our students and young engineers.”

With locations in Kentucky and Texas, Audubon Metals is a non-ferrous metals recycler and secondary aluminum smelter that specializes in manufacturing custom alloys for die casting applications. 

“In partnership with Ohio State, we will create new recycled aluminum alloys for lightweight part applications while we also promote sustainability,” said Audubon Metals President and CEO Brian Hawkes. “We have a lot of new opportunities to use this new die cast equipment and we are excited to be working with such impressive associates at Ohio State.” 

Much of the research that resulted in the licensed technology was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Reducing EMbodied-Energy And Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) Institute. Ohio State is an academic member of the REMADE Institute, and Luo serves on its Technical Leadership Committee as deputy node leader of manufacturing materials optimization. Audubon Metals is an industry member of REMADE.

“Congratulations to the entire R&D project team, including Dr. Luo’s team at Ohio State, the team at Audubon Metals, as well as the REMADE tech team, which oversees the project and ensures it meets technological milestones,” said REMADE CEO Nabil Nasr. “This is a great accomplishment. We believe the technology that’s been developed, which is capable of reducing energy consumption by 13.1 PJ per year, will accelerate the nation’s transition to a Circular Economy, and more specifically, will be incredibly valuable to the U.S. automotive industry as it transitions to electric vehicles (EVs) over the next few years.”

Ohio State University’s Technology Commercialization Office works with thousands of researchers across the university to protect and transfer innovations into the market to advance research, improve lives, and benefit society. Last year, Ohio State licensed 114 technologies that could lead to new medical treatments, improved methods for fighting climate change, new sources of clean energy, advances in manufacturing, as well as many other areas. 

“Ohio State’s world class researchers are always at work solving meaningful problems that are impacting society. The Technology Commercialization Office is fortunate to collaborate with researchers like Dr. Luo and companies like Audubon Metals to help these important innovations turn into products and services that positively impact the citizens of Ohio and the world” said Kevin Taylor, senior associate vice president of technology commercialization at The Ohio State University. 

Category: Research