CLEVELAND, Ohio — A Chicago company has developed a process that could transform the way aluminum is processed.
The process uses heat and electricity to melt the metal, then extrude it into a tube for further processing.
“It’s a process where you can basically just take a piece of aluminum and turn it into the material you want to build a building on,” said Tim Cieslak, CEO of Thermaltake, a Chicago-based company that developed the process.
“And it’s really, really good at what it does.
You don’t have to have tons of aluminum in the tube to do it.”
The process could make aluminum in small quantities, Ciesnak said.
It could also make aluminum for buildings and other materials.
Aluminum in a tube.
Photo credit: Thermatake/YouTube”We think it’s a really interesting technology,” said Andrew Karpinski, who is the president of the Institute for Sustainable Materials, a nonprofit research group.
“We really want to see how it can be applied to a lot of different applications.
For instance, we think it could be used in the manufacturing of flexible metal sheets and for some of the new materials that have been developed, such as the carbon nanotube.”
Carbon nanotubes are a type of nanoturbative material that are made of tiny particles of carbon atoms, similar to tiny beads of string or paint.
When they are stretched, they form nanoscale structures that are strong enough to withstand the extreme temperatures required for molten metal to melt.
“What we’re seeing in the process is really quite exciting, and we’re excited about the possibility of this technology becoming more widely available,” Karpinsky said.
“The process can be used to produce large quantities of materials that are much lighter than they would be otherwise.”
Photo courtesy of Thermsaw/YouTubeIn addition to aluminum, the process uses a variety of other metals, including copper, nickel, and copper oxide.
Thermallake also is developing a process to make copper from copper powder.
The company says the copper is much stronger than copper in the traditional method.
It uses heat, and a machine that turns the powder into metal slices.
The molten metal is then extruded into tubes, and the tubes are filled with molten aluminum.
“In this process, you can take a metal and turn a piece and then turn it in the tubes and it’s very similar to using a saw,” Ciesllak said, noting that a metal saw can be made from a single piece of metal, or several.
The aluminum tubes are then cooled to -270 degrees Fahrenheit, which is close to absolute zero, or minus 273 degrees Fahrenheit.
This makes it much harder to melt than a conventional process.
It’s not just the strength of the material that makes aluminum in these tubes so durable, Cielsak said; it’s the way the tubes have been shaped to create the required structure.
The tubes can be assembled in a number of different ways, and Thermalsaw uses a method called electrostamping that reduces the heat that is generated when the metal is turned, according to the company.
The heat from the process creates a strong magnetic field that pulls the aluminum out of the tubes, making them much more stable than the regular metal tubes that would otherwise be damaged by heat.
“This is an amazing technology, and it has a tremendous potential to be used for a number, many applications,” Cielak said in a video.
“If you look at the industry right now, a lot more materials that could be manufactured and produced using this process are being made than could be by traditional metal saws.”
Cieszko said Thermalls has been working on this process for about a year.
The goal is to start production in the next six months, he said.
For now, Thermats is in the middle of manufacturing one tube of aluminum, with a capacity of just one kilogram.
The first batch of tubes will be shipped to the United States next month.
Ciesyas is also working on developing a system that would make aluminum from a mixture of metal powders and other chemicals.
Thermalallake is now developing a metal cutting machine that could cut aluminum at a higher speed than traditional metal cutting machines.
“With a cutting machine, we can do things like cutting more quickly, and at a much lower cost,” Ciedlak added.
“When we go to this next phase, we’re going to be able to do that at a very much lower price.”
The company has about two years to raise capital to develop the process, Ciedzko noted.
“I would be very interested in having a company that is willing to come to us with this technology,” he said in the video.