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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/W032147/1
Title: Tailored Microstructures via Thermoelectric-Magnetohydrodynamics for Additive Manufacturing (TEAM)
Principal Investigator: Kao, Dr A
Other Investigators:
Pericleous, Professor KA
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
European Synch Radiation Facility - ESRF Ford Motor Co Renishaw
University of Sheffield
Department: Mathematical Sciences, FACH
Organisation: University of Greenwich
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 03 January 2023 Ends: 02 January 2026 Value (£): 451,915
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Fluid Dynamics Manufacturing Machine & Plant
Materials Processing
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
08 Jun 2022 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 8 and 9 June 2022 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Additive Manufacturing (AM), also termed 3D printing, involves successively adding thin layers of new material formed by melting alloy powders or wires and solidifying them onto prior layers to construct 3D components. This process directly builds intricately shaped parts impossible to create using traditional techniques. Further, AM promises to be both more energy and materials efficient. Potential applications are far reaching, including biomedical, energy and aerospace. However, AM components can suffer from microstructural features that may lead to degraded properties, such as porosity and epitaxial grain growth. Porosity can form from gas bubbles entrained in the solidification front, leading to voids in the final built. Epitaxial grain growth occurs when new grains take on the crystal orientation of the previous layer, producing often undesirable direction dependent properties. We hope to control these features using magnetic fields acting on Thermoelectric (TE) currents.

TE effects translate temperature variations at the junction of two conductive materials into electric current. They are well known in common applications such as Peltier coolers, TE generators for waste heat recovery and in thermocouples. In this proposal we aim use the interaction of thermoelectric currents and applied magnetic fields to generate fluid flow in the molten pool of metal that forms material in the AM process. This interaction is called Thermoelectric Magnetohydrodynamics, or TEMHD. Our feasibility studies indicate that TEMHD can transform the microstructure in AM components, preventing the formation of microstructural features such as porosity or epitaxial growth. We will show that thermoelectric effects are a natural and inherent part of AM processes, with high currents forming due to the huge thermal gradients encountered in AM. We will apply controlled external magnetic fields, causing these currents to interact and generate a Lorentz force that drives TEMHD flow. Our preliminary numerical predictions show that even a moderate magnetic field generated by permanent magnets is sufficient for TEMHD to dominate the melt pool hydrodynamics and that the flow magnitude is highly sensitive to the orientation and magnitude of the magnetic field. This sensitivity will enable us to modulate the heat, mass and momentum transport, enabling control of microstructural evolution, including epitaxial growth and gas entrainment. Our vision is to reveal the fundamental mechanisms that TEMHD introduces to AM and to then ultimately develop a pathway to exploit it in industrial applications producing improved and consistent material properties of components.

To achieve these goals the investigators will employ state-of-the-art experimental and numerical modelling techniques. High speed in situ synchrotron X-ray radiography of the process will generate data for validation of the numerical model and provide benchmarks for the wider scientific community. The numerical model will capture the complex interactions in the melt pool and provide understanding of the complex physical mechanisms at work. Theoretical predictions from the model will guide the experimental programme, while direct observations will guide the numerical model development. With a validated numerical model, a parametric study of the magnetic field conditions along with key AM processing conditions will be conducted to determine conditions required to produce microstructures that give the properties required for each application. The ability to use TEMHD to design the microstructures will be demonstrated in the experimental programme. Throughout the project we will seek input from our industrial partners, and during the latter stages we will hold a workshop to develop translational pathways for scaling and implementing these techniques to the next generation of AM machines.

Key Findings
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