Flash RA Maximum Strength Steel w/ Retained Austenite in <10s

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

SFP Works
11825 29 Mile Road
Washington, MI 48095
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Abstract

In order to reduce Americans dependence on oil imports, the Department of Energy (DOE) has pursued multiple strategies for making vehicles more fuel efficient. Reducing vehicle weight is a promising approach and much effort has focused on developing technologies to replace steel. However, exotic materials are proving expensive and often require automotive manufacturers invest heavily in factory retooling. An alternative strategy is to fabricate components from high strength steels so less material is needed for the same loadbearing capacity. This strategy has the advantage of using low cost steel and does not require expensive retooling; however, the high strength steels currently available either required high levels of expensive alloying elements or tend to be brittle and thus unsuitable for automotive applications. Developing lowcost, highstrength, readilyweldable steels with suitable ductility for automotive applications has long been a goal of the steel and automotive industry. SFP Works has developed a novel heat treating process to create lowcost, very highstrength steel. Known as Flash Processing or Flash Bainite, this heat treatment uses a thermal cycle of less than 10 seconds to create a ductile and weldable steel well suited for the automotive industry. Further, Flash Processing requires only a modest investment in new equipment making it attractive for the smallto mid sized businesses that form the bulk of the automotive supplier base. In this proposed effort, SFP Works will enhance their Auto OEM proven methods by developing a Retained Austenite (RA) phase in Flash Bainite. RA has been researched by over 100 prior institutions proving its value in increasing the strength and ductility of steel yet taking many minutes to hours to create. Counterintuitively, the & lt;10s thermal cycle of Flash Processing has already proven meaningful RA volume percentages can be had. Success of this proposal will optimize Flash RA into a 16001900. MPa steel at 2025% elongation; properties highly desired by the Automotive Industry and many others. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Flash Processed steel will provide Americans with lighter more fuel efficient vehicles that also perform as well, or better, in all passenger protection safety tests. Additionally, Flash Processed steels allow lighter military vehicles, farm machinery, line pipe and pressure vessels, and cranes with longer boom lengths and increased lifting capacity, all of which will be lighter and easier to transport yet just as durable. As reported by four US Army Labs, Flash Bainite could accomplish a weight, cost, and energy savings simultaneously while increasing safety of US citizenry.