The XRMON-SOL module will perform a single solidification experiment of a pre-selected aluminium-copper alloy under microgravity conditions. The experiment was conceived, and will be administered, by University College Dublin, Ireland, – Primary Investigator: Prof David Browne, UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering – as part of the ESA sponsored MAP, XRMON.
The experiment consists of a carefully developed Isothermal furnace (XRMON-SOL), designed specifically to solidify aluminium-based samples without influence of any aberrant temperature gradients. The sample composition chosen for flight is an Al-Ti-B grain refined Al-20wt%Cu alloy. The solidification process is observed in real time using in situ X-radiography, with live images transmitted to the control room during flight, allowing the scientists to follow and interact with the solidification process throughout microgravity. Images and data are stored onboard and will be retrieved for further analysis after the flight.
By removing the influence of gravity during solidification, the results from the experiment will further increase our understanding of solidification processes, providing valuable experimental validation to sophisticated mathematical and computation models of solidification. Consequently, more accurate models of solidification lead to the production of more complex, higher quality, cast components with superior mechanical properties, eliminating waste and reducing energy consumption.
Al-20wt%Cu alloy, grain refined with 0.1wt%Al-Ti-B (5/1) master alloy, solidified on ground using the XRMON-SOL Isothermal Furnace at a constant cooling rate of -0.05 K/s during the initial growth regime, increasing to a rate of -1.0 K/s for the final stages of solidification
XRMON-SOL teams at the campaign:
University College of Dublin: Dr A Murphy, Prof D Browne
ESA-Estec: Neil Melville Antonio Verga
SSC: Ylva Houltz, Christian Lockowandt, Jianning Li, Kenneth Henriksson