Materials.Business Weekly ⚙️

September 29, 2020

Quote of the week: “I am forever learning and changing.” William Edwards Deming (1900-1993).

From The Editor's Corner

Each Revolution with its own materials

The development of materials as the foundation for the advancement of humanity

From the very beginning, humankind’s development has been supported by the availability of new materials. Sometimes, new materials answer people’s dreams. Some other times, new materials bring new opportunities. Such a mixture of answers/opportunities have been remarkable in some moments of history, associated with relevant changes in the richness production modes. At the change of the century XVIII-XIX, the entrance of humankind to Modernism was marked by enormous transformation, the shift from feudalism to industrialization: It was named as the First Industrial Revolution, associated with the appearance of the vapor machine.

The First Industrial Revolution

Novel industrial processes, with special operating stressing conditions on materials, including higher temperatures, pressures, and mechanical efforts aroused. Besides, more aggressive environments affecting materials were generated by the industrial activity itself. Handling of very aggressive substances, including raw materials, chemicals, wastes, and pollutants changing natural environments (waters, soils, and atmospheres).

Close predecessors of that change of era were discoveries like iron smelting (1500) and crucible steel (1765), and other metals like Zn (1746) and Ni (1751). Then, as a result of the proper First Industrial Revolution, Al was discovered (1808), and its industrial refining process was developed eighty years later. Meanwhile, in 1856, the first mass-production steel process was conceived, the Bessemer steel-making process. The greatest support for modern life in the XIX Century, the “Century of Chemistry''.

The Second Industrial Revolution

A huge amount of new paradigms, including Bessemer steel and aluminum discoveries, converged, and the Second Industrial Revolution happened about 1880-1910. That revolution was mainly associated with the development of assembly line manufacturing. Closing that period, another relevant contribution was the starting of the development of alloyed steels. This was the metallurgical answer to the challenge from the O&G industry, asking for more corrosion-resistant materials. And the most prominent member of this new family of steels was stainless steel. Due to SS availability, it was possible to develop the petrochemical industry supporting the accelerated growth of the automotive industry, and much other fuel demanding activities along the XX Century. The Discovery of corrosion-resistant materials became a scientific duty, and new inventions were associated with systematic research. That means a step by step procedure including laboratory synthesis, characterization, validation, scaling, and manufacturing. The fruits of these efforts included the families of both light and super alloys. Simultaneously, along those decades, the discovery of Bakelite, Nylon, Polyethylene, Acrylics, and some others, gave the name to the “Century of Polymers”, and changed the scenario of the handling and management of the anti-corrosion protection of materials. Developments included a giant jump on anti-corrosive coatings and paints, both on variety and protective quality.

The Third Industrial Revolution

Around the ’80s, conventional research in labs began to include an initial step of hypothetical modeling of the expected material and its properties. That was the time when the Third Industrial Revolution happened. A new techno-economic model characterized by strong automation of industrial processes and beyond, and also cheaper access to information. New paradigms converging on this revolution included industrial structures based on automation (CAD/CAM, industrial robots, CNC machine tools), high-capacity computing equipment, expert systems, artificial vision, and optoelectronics. Most of these advances were supported by a new electronic paradigm: the transistor, probably one of the most important inventions in history. Behind the transistor, it was another remarkable development, the use of Si on electronic devices. Consequently, the last four decades are known as the “Age of Silicon”. In other words, a group of new materials converged in this new revolution, including, in addition to Si, composites (glass fiber reinforced polymers, metal matrix composites, special adhesives, and so on), new polymers as Kevlar and epoxies, tough ceramics, and new ferrous (micro-alloyed like the high strength steels, and dual-phase like the duplex stainless steels) and non-ferrous alloys (e.g. Al-Li alloys, and superconductors), as a consequence of better quality and control of the processes. The motivation for the development of many of these new materials was linked to the importance of better anti-corrosive behavior and corrosion prevention and control.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

The paving for new and more powerful electron microscopes was prepared. New techniques as tunnel and atomic force microscopies, in addition to the improved transmission and scanning ones, allowed the emergence of nanotechnology, the “Nano Age”. This new paradigm has joined many other scientific and technological disruptions such as cloud computing, big data, machine learning, augmented and virtual reality, internet of things, artificial intelligence, sensorics, and blockchain. This confluence of huge new paradigms is the so-called Four Industrial Revolution. The era of the integration between the digital and physical worlds.

After all, the more important thing now is how to take advantage of all these new opportunities, to nurse materials, parts, equipment, and infrastructure in general, in a more proper way. Fortunately, one of the main branches of nanotechnology is nanomaterials (materials with outstanding characteristics associated with any relevant external dimension below about 100 nm). Working at that dimension, it is the opportunity for a broad spectrum of different properties. Thus, the appearance of “miraculous” materials as fullerenes, perovskites, and graphene is of public domain. The industry has received new products including coatings and paints, adhesives (some of them from a biomimetic origin), composites, solid-state lighting, Li-ion batteries, higher strength light alloys, and so on.

Besides, the last two decades have been distinguished by a new way of materials development. This is a revolution itself because it integrates some of the previously mentioned new technologies like automation, high-performance computing, cloud computing, big data analytics, and machine learning. These technologies iterate with other disruptive lab methodologies including simulation, modeling (with emphasis on methodologies like first-principles quantum chemistry methods and Monte Carlo approaches), virtual synthesis and characterization, prototyping, and testing, before manufacturing. Information from thermodynamically databases, extracted from original experimental publications, is used to predict microstructures and processing models and, then, the expected material properties, before the prototyping step. Finally, a more rational materials development methodology, away from traditional trial and error methods.

Prototyping is done including both conventional procedures but also new ones like combinatorial chemistry and high throughput screening. Experimentation includes testing of potentially useful processes like irradiation, cryogenic treatments, and additive manufacturing. Also, assessment and characterization techniques are growing and improving permanently, both microscopic and spectroscopic.

Currently, additive or 3D manufacturing has gained great momentum. It includes several types of processes, like improved pulvimetallurgy, mechanical alloying, wire arc additive manufacturing, other procedures mediated by laser fusion (laser additive manufacturing) as laser-powder bed fusion, laser beam melting, and laser metal deposition, and so on. Unexpected materials are appearing. These include nanocomposites of glass onto the metallic and polymeric matrix. Microstructures are incomparable to conventional fabricated alloys. Thus, as a result of design efforts using tools like artificial intelligence and machine learning (experimenting with the periodic table, confidently), have been emerged a new group of alloys, where a high number of traditional and new alloying elements are playing together (five or more in similar atomic proportions), called Compositional Complex Alloys (CCAs). At the same time, this group encompasses the so-called Multi-Principal Element Alloys (MPEAs), and the High-Entropy Alloys (HEAs), all of the advanced materials with an outstanding combination of properties. Alloys with a combination of low density and high strength, toughness, and ductility, even in the instance of complex materials as stainless steels.

There is still a long way to go in the development of additive manufactured alloys. Common characteristics that are usually associated with bad behavior, which must be solved, include high porosity, very heterogeneous microstructures, and high residual stresses. Nevertheless, there are early advantages like an easier control of cathodic micro and nano inclusions, and consequently less susceptibility to the attack initiation, or sensitization in the case of materials as stainless steels. In general, in the situation of passivating alloys, the deleterious effect of heterogeneities and voids has been saved by the formation of complex doped oxide and a more protective passivation layer. As a result, MPAs are resulting in much better anticorrosive alloys, too.

In conclusion, the current industrial revolution brings serious challenges, but mainly huge opportunities for corrosion prevention, anti-corrosive measurements, and asset protection. Materials could be saved (Earth will be protected, and money, too). Remember: Protection of materials and equipment is good business!

Prof. Carlos Arroyave, Ph.D. Editor.

Materials Biz News

On the route of Circular Economy

As an example of the emerging economy around sustainability and the Circular Economy strategy, Peterson Energy Logistics has announced the arrival of a 14.200 tons offshore topside structure, at the Company’s base in Shetland. According to the Company, they will be in charge of the full decommissioning services including decontamination, deconstruction, waste management, and environmental services together with associated logistics, marine, and quayside operations. -Read more-

Stainless steel additive manufacturing plant

Outokumpu (one of the most recognized providers of high-grade stainless steels) and the SMS Group (a company oriented to the construction of steel making and nonferrous metals plants) have decided to join efforts installing a metal-powder atomization plant for the production of high-quality stainless steel powders. According to the expectations, the atomization plant will include an induction furnace, an atomizer, cyclones, and filters operating in an inert atmosphere. Raw materials to be used are scrap, virgin metal, and master alloys. Powders to be obtained include stainless steels, maraging steels, special steels, superalloys, nickel-bases alloys, cobalt-chromium alloys on a copper basis, and so on. Production will be starting in 2022, with a capacity of 330 tons per year. -Read more-

Supporting UK energy security

A joint venture between BP, Neptune Energy, and JAPEX has started the subsea construction phase of the Seagull tie-back project. It is a high pressure (> 800 bar), high temperature (> 160° C), growth 230 km east of Aberdeen (UK), and c.a. 95 m under the sea level. Its probable gross reserves are estimated at 50 million boe, and the expected gross daily production is 50.000 boe, starting in 2022. The expected life is 10 years. -Read more-

Released technology

Makani, a company partnered by Shell, and devoted to the development of mechanisms like kites, for energy generation, has announced its closing. Simultaneously, its owners have decided to share the generated knowledge and opened its worldwide portfolio, including more than 400 patents and applications. According to the announcement, their purpose with this decision is to “promote the advancement of clean, affordable wind power. -Read more-

Free publications on powder metallurgy

The European Powder Metallurgy Association - EPMA, offers, free of charge, the option of downloading several publications related to the subject of its specialty. Some of the titles, specifically announced to designers and engineers, are “Introduction to Additive Manufacturing Technology”, “Introduction to Hot Isostatic Pressing Technology”, and “Introduction to Press and Sinter Technology”. -Read more-


Senior Professional Engineer IV - Florida, US

Tampa Bay Water is seeking an engineer to be in charge of facility design, project management, problem assessment, and solutions on drinking water supply and treatment infrastructure.​

Postdoctoral positions - Toronto, Canada

The Laboratory for Extreme Mechanics & Additive Manufacturing, at the Department of Material Science and Engineering of the University of Toronto (Canada), is offering research positions, including full scholarships, to develop research on the mechanical and thermal stability of nanostructured high-entropy alloys, in-situ mechanical testing at small scales and in extreme conditions, 3D printing of titanium and magnesium alloys for aerospace and biomedical applications, instrumental design for a laser 3D printing system, and machine learning for materials design and intelligent manufacturing.

Program Officer - Policy Advice - Abu Dhabi, UAE

IRENA - International Renewable Energy Agency announces a vacancy for a Program Office – Policy Advisor to be based in Abu Dhabi (UAE). The chosen person will be responsible for duties like studies of renewable energy policy, identification, and assessment of trends in the subject, analysis of proposals, and so on. All these duties supporting efforts towards the energy transition.

Senior Environmental Manager - Oakville, Ontario, Canada

Kiewit, a large construction and engineering company, is seeking for a manager of the environmental issues of the company projects, based in Oakville (Ontario, Canada). Specific duties include subjects as identification, evaluation, and mitigation of environmental risks, development and updating of environmental plans, training of the staff, interaction with governmental offices, partners, and clients, etc.​

Networking & Knowledge Exchange

Corrosion and Protection of Concrete Bridges - Virtual

NACE International is announcing this new event related to corrosion control in concrete bridges by cathodic protection, to behold on October 5th – 6th 2020, from 10:00 to 14:00 CST. Speakers will be staff members of the US Department of Transportation, an entity in charge of caring tens of thousands of bridges being part of the US road network.

A cutting edge materials assessment - Virtual

ASM Ontario (CA) Chapter invites to attend a cycle of virtual talks, including subjects like “Materials in F1 Racing: What’s the Formula”, on Wednesday, October 14th, 2020, from 14:00 to 15:30 EST. The speaker will be Matilda McAleenan, Materials Engineer at McLaren Racing Formula 1 Team, active STEM ambassador, and co-chair and founding member of McLaren Group’s first women’s network.

Of viruses and other species - Virtual

Webinar. Next Tuesday 20th of October 2020, 14:30-15:30 Central European Time, the European MIC (Microbially influenced corrosion) Network will be holding a webminar on “Microcosm studies for evaluating the microbial influence on metal corrosion”. The invited speakers are Nicole Matschiavelli and Vlad Sushko from the Helmholtz-Center Dresden-Rossendorf, Dresden, Germany - HZDR.

Tips for developing more toughness materials - Virtual

The Royal Society (UK), is celebrating 100 years of Griffith’s paper on the energy criterion for cracking. Consequently, an event, entitled “A cracking approach to inventing tough new materials”, and led by Professors Kevin Kendall, Anthony Kinloch, William Clegg, and Siva Bohmin, will behold. The agenda includes a series of brief presentations on the current knowledge and theories about fracture mechanics. In the end, a discussion between specialists will behold. Monday, October 19th, 2020, from 14:00 to 17:00 UK Time.

Photo by Science in HD on Unsplash