Structure-property relationships in an Al matrix Ca nanofilamentary composite conductor with potential application in high-voltage power transmission
This study investigated the processing-structure-properties relationships in an Al/Ca composites using both experiments and modeling/simulation. A particular focus of the project was understanding how the strength and electrical conductivity of the composite are related to its microstructure in the hope that a conducting material with light weight, high strength, and high electrical conductivity can be developed to produce overhead high-voltage power transmission cables. The current power transmission cables (e.g., Aluminum Conductor Steel Reinforced (ACSR)) have acceptable performance for high-voltage AC transmission, but are less well suited for high-voltage DC transmission due to the poorly conducting core materials that support the cable weight. This Al/Ca composite was produced by powder metallurgy and severe plastic deformation by extrusion and swaging. The fine Ca metal powders have been produced by centrifugal atomization with rotating liquid oil quench bath, and a detailed study about the atomization process and powder characteristics has been conducted. The microstructure of Al/Ca composite was characterized by electron microscopy. Microstructure changes at elevated temperature were characterized by thermal analysis and indirect resistivity tests. The strength and electrical conductivity were measured by tensile tests and four-point probe resistivity tests. Predicting the strength and electrical conductivity of the composite was done by micro-mechanics-based analytical modeling. Microstructure evolution was studied by mesoscale-thermodynamics-based phase field modeling and a preliminary atomistic molecular dynamics simulation. The application prospects of this composite was studied by an economic analysis. This study suggests that the Al/Ca (20 vol. %) composite shows promise for use as overhead power transmission cables. Further studies are needed to measure the corrosion resistance, fatigue properties and energized field performance of this composite.