June 22, 2021

Prof. Dr. Ali Kalkanlı

Interview about Engineering and Technology with Prof. Dr. Ali Kalkanlı

Prof. Dr. Ali Kalkanlı

Could you please give information about yourself, your academic background, and your ongoing projects?

I graduated form Department of Metallurgical Engineering at Middle East Technical University Ankara Turkey  in 1982 and completed a M.S thesis in the same department in 1985  on Atomization and Microstructures of metal powders.  I worked as tutorial and foundry laboratory assistant in the same department in between 1983-1985.   An industrial Ph.D was offered by Fibretechnology Nottingham and The O.U Milton Keynes U.K , then I enrolled the research team in England under Prof.John V.Wood supervision in 1985.  During my PH.D time period  I worked on development of ‘Meltoverflow of stainless steel strip casting process’ on behalf of Fibretechnology Nottingham.  I joined a post doctorate reseach project in 1992 conducted by professor Harris in University of Nottingham  sponsored by a cast iron foundry Thomas Seager Ltd in Faversham  south of London.  Then I completed my Ph.D thesis in 1993 and returned to my homeland Turkey.  I took a lecturing position as Assistant Professor at METU in the same department I graduated, I qualified associate professor in 1996 and professor in 2005. Since 2005, I have been lecturing on principles of solidification, foundry technology laboratory courses, near  net shape casting, powder metallurgy and archeometallurgy courses at METU.  Starting from my laboratory experience on both ferrous and non ferrous metal processing I involved at METU, I extended my experience on rapid solidification of stainless steel  by constructing a melt overflow caster and produced strips of 304 stainless steel directly form liquid state  at Oxford research unit of The O.U England,  I also worked on surface tension measurement by oscillation droplet technique and measured surface energies of a series of 304 stainless steel alloys together with Dr.David Grant in Oxford research centre.  We produced surface tension data on 304 stainless steel alloys with different surface active element addition such as sulphur and published papers.  After I returned back to Turkey, I constructed a squeeze casting unit for metal matrix composite with SiC, TiC and A2O3 reinforcement.  Different specimes were produced directly for three point bend testing without machining. A356, 7075 and AlFeVSi alloys prepared in induction furnace for infiltration and stir casting to produce  metal matrix compostes  A joint reseach project was conducted with Bulgarian academy of science on powder extrusion of AlFeVSi alloy for high temperature applications.  These alloy powders were also produced in a horizontal gas atomization unit we constructed in our foundry and metal processing laboratory.

I initiated an environmentally friendly and light car development with aluminum alloy spaceframe and carbon fibre reinforced composite body. A completely unique style body design with 356 alloy chasis frame with A,B and C columns assembled by TIG welding of 6061 extrudates produced specially for our project in Ankara. Sand cast spaceframe parts and shock absorber towers were prepared at METU foundry lab. The four doors car prototype named as Exot Burak Sedan powered by diesel engine and electric motor. The project was sponsored by Turkish ministry of science industry and technology.

Recent years I involved in development of magnesium alloy for helicopter gearbox by developing grain refiner master alloys of AZ91 plus alloy as a part of national helicopter project.  We produced a series of AZ91 alloys in our university casting unit with Zr, Sb and Sn additions, Then I involved in a project using A357 alloy including riser and gating design for low pressure die casting of upper module and main module of TAI Gökbey helicopter, Then I involved in A201 alloy development and mechanical testing for TEİ engine block application with a company in Eskişehir. Another industrial project I worked as a researcher and completed with a sinter company in İstanbul we produced 7075 P/M alloy by graphene addition for piston application.  I worked with a company in Niğde in a project for thermomecanical processing with T6 including cryogenic treatment of 2024 aluminum alloy extudates for torque control of  transmission components.

Can you elaborate on the linkage between the Turkish Industry and Turkish Academia?

Recent years in our country there are many joint reseach projects in universities carried out with industry collaboration by academicians under scheme of Teydeb and 1505 funded by TUBİTAk Turkish Science Foundation. The ministry of science, industry and technology  created a climate of reseach and development activities in technopark centres in many universities and organized industrial areas OSB of our cities. The laboratories of both universities and companies  acquired more experience and instruments as a result of university industry collaboration projects funded by government organizations.   The infra structure and research laboratories of companies and universities were equipped with better instruments as output of these projects. More academics involved in real industrial problems arise from production or research and development activities of industry.   Although the collaboration intensity and  effectiveness is not the same level  as in Japan, Europe or U.S.A .  There is increasing trend and rising self confidence of engineers and academics after realizing the benefits of working together. Domestic and national solutions of industrial problems are replacing with imported technologies  from  abroad as a result of Turkish way of working together. Papers and books published by these national organizations most of them are related to industrial topics of ferrous and non ferrous metals and their process developments activities.

What is added value means for an academician? How do you practice this with the Turkish industry?

I can give answer to this question looking from my point of view.  A win win situation must be reached during joint projects otherwise fruitful atmosphere will not be created.  Earnings should not be first matter for an academic but payments must be satisfying.  Once a positive dialog is reached in a collaborative work between academic and company staff, further projects ideas can be developed easily.  Added value should be acquired by industry when the project is completed.  If the main idea is provided by academic royalty rights should be shared by academic and company.  An agreement should be searched without creating conflict of interest.   The first priority should be given to industrial solution and verification of the project should be most the important outcome.  Royalty rules and conditions must be determined by academic and company’s research coordinator at the beginning to avoid conflicts.  I personally enjoy when we find the solution for industrial problems together with company’s engineers.  They are also willing to write papers and submit to the conferences together with academics  as a part of their responsibilities to keep research centers activities going and get more funding from government.  Once the companies realize the results of the joint projects are used for further development of their process they bring new ideas and problems to the university.   This is a good way of support for both academic and students.  This may be the best added value for all of us.

Aluminum is considered a trend material for many sectors; such as transportation. You are one of the top academicians who has interest in the subject. Can you walk as through the use of aluminum in automotive production? Why and how the material is preferred?

Metallic materials such as aluminum, titanium and also magnesium as light metals are receiving more attention since aircraft and transport industry requires higher specific stiffness for road vehicles, trains, tram coaches and passenger and fighter planes. Weight saving is the most important design criteria in engineering solutions.  These light metals and composites are competing with each other. The new steel alloys TWİP and TRIP steels are also a stronger than before and competing with light metals and composites.  Magnesium and aluminum alloys are affordable for road transport vehicles but titanium is difficult to produce and also expensive for road transport. Since specific strength and stiffness is mandatory for aircraft parts titanium is the best solution for jet engine parts since high temperature conditions.  Although magnesium(density= 1.4 gm/cc)  is lighter than aluminum(density=2.7 gm/cc) it requires special atmosphere controlled casting and processing equipment and careful staff to avoid fire accidents.  But aluminum is the best light metals both easy to recycle and alloy can be prepared under air atmosphere without expensive furnace protection systems.  Aluminum alloys are widely used for automotive parts such as engine blocks, gearboxes housing, front and rear wheel components, alloy wheels and many more dynamic parts of the cars.  One of the most important property of aluminum alloys is high dynamic energy absorption during car collision. Therefore the top brands of the word car manufactures are producing all aluminum body in white such as Audi, Jaguar, Volvo and PSA and Ford.  Aluminum alloys AlSiMg series such as A356 and A 357 are widely used for car parts. Both primer and secondary alloys are used after refining and degasing before casting.  Low and high pressure die casting processes are used for high volume production of parts.  Resin sand and permanent mould casting process are used for engine parts. Aluminum alloys are economic and easy for recycling.

Turkish Aluminum sector has a great potential in production of automotive. Can you shortly elaborate on the other transportation vehicles?

Turkish aluminum industry can produce cast parts such as engine blocks, alternator housings, suspension parts, brake components, chassis parts, aluminum alloy wheels, rolled sheets for body panels, slabs and billets for extrusions not only semi finished products but also finished and near net shape produced alloy parts for Europe and all over the World.   Although sheet aluminum alloys can be produced in Turkey we can produce 11 different alloys among 123 aluminum alloys in our country.  Generally 1000, 3000 and 8000 alloys are widely produced by twin roll casters and some 6061 and 6063 alloy billets are produced by either DC or horizontal continuous casters for extrusions.  Special Al-Si alloys A356 and A357 are used for sand and die casting of automotive components. The alloys used for aircraft body panel sheets are not produced in our country but imported from abroad for Airbus mid segment construction.  2024 alloys are used for this application.  Hot rolling of 2024 and 5754 alloys are not produced in our country.

Our national high speed train constructed with all aluminum extrusions and rolled sheets was completed and test drives already started since the second half of the last year.  Nearly most of the aluminum products to manufacture this train was supplied form Korea.  Our aluminum industry should prepared for the special alloys used in new Turkish high speed train.

The aluminum sheets of 2024 and similar series should also be produced by our companies with new investments and funding by our government.

Why the world should choose Turkish Aluminum Products?

Turkish aluminum industry has one smelter, 19 wrought aluminum produces 21 rollers plate manufacturers, 74 extruders, 18 wire and cable manufacturers, 10 packaging manufacturers. Turkey’s export of aluminium products doubled in last 10 years. Our aluminum companies produces twinroll cast and cold rolled sheet foils and billets for extrusion for export. Turkey has added value producers for Aluminum continuous product sheets foils and extrusion profiles. Turkey produces packaging coil and sheets of 1050, 3003, 3105, 5005, 5754 alloys for automotive application, heat shields, satellite disk antenna sheet alloys 1000/3000/5000 series, 8079 alloys for flexible packaging. Also, Turkish companies are able to produce billets for extrusion of different profiles, fotovoltaic panel construction composite panel sheets. More over, Turkish Aluminium companies produce billets for extrusion of profiles as well as sheets coils extrusion profiles solar energy panels and foils for food packaging and electromagnetic shielding strips for packaging.

Aluminum foundries produces engine blocks transmission parts and forged components for automotive and aircraft industry. Companies producing parts for export can produce Inverter Housings, Inverter Brackets, Inverter Covers, IPS (Integrated Power System) Housings, DCDC Converters for electric cars structural parts such as  Reinforcement Brackets LI/RE, Reinforcement Plates Front Inner LI/RE, Console Centre Rear, Center Reinforcement Bracket, Chassis Supports LI/RE, Reinforcement Plates LI/RE.  We host examples of production of  automotive parts such as water and oil pumps, thermostat, oil sump, bracket, oil sump, chain case cover by high pressure die casting.

Most of the aluminum part producers are equipped with advanced laboratory instruments for quality control, research and development projects. From foils for electromagnetic shielding of cables to fotovoltaic panels and car parts such as engine blocks and alternator housing, Turkish aluminum industry are capable of providing custom based solutions for world industry both for today and tomorrow.