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An 'expert' opinion on Aluminium vs Steel armour ?10/26/2003 1:02:53 PM

This is one of the more insightful article I have read on the subject. "To introduce myself, I have recently completed a a masters degree in Manufacturing Engineering from Warwick University in the UK. My thesis was on laser processing of aluminum. I have a lifelong interest in armored vehicles, although I do not work for a defense contractor. First, I have a few technical comments about the flammability of aluminum. To explain things you really have to go back to basics. Materials want to achieve a lower energy state, in the case of Aluminum and steel they are more stable with an ionic bond between the metal and oxygen. This is basically the process of burning; corrosion of the metals is the same process at a much slower speed. To compare Aluminum to Steel. Aluminum is more reactive than Steel, this is why it costs so much more to extract it from its ore. However, aluminum is corrosion resistant because when it corrodes the surface of the plate is covered by the product of the corrosion. The product of this corrosion is Aluminum Oxide; this is a ceramic and is about the 3rd hardest substance known. The thin coating protects the aluminum under the surface and stops further corrosion. Steel on the other hand when it corrodes the Iron Ferrite peels straight off and exposes the underlying material this is why steel rusts so fast. Aluminum and Iron will burn as will any other metal, if it has a sufficiently sized particle. For both metals it is a very small size. A single plate will simply react on the outer layers however the outer skin will by covered in ash from the combustion and protect the inner plate. The fear soldier riding the M113 had is because it is light vehicle with very thin armour, without any fire suppression systems. However it must be pointed out that in Vietnam it generally took a good number of RGP hits to cause a K-kill on the M113's. In all cases the vehicle burning is caused by the contents burning. The only real difference between aluminum and steel is that aluminum looses its strength at a much lower temperature, meaning that an aluminum vehicle that has burnt will generally collapse. Also to explain the HMS Sheffield situation. The Sheffield was hit by an Exocet missile, the warhead did not detonate, and damage was relatively light. However the fuel from the missile set fire to the ships wiring. The ships wiring was a product of cost cutting and burned very well. However in the impact the missile knock out the ships single water line meaning that the crew could not put out the fire. Had the lines been working they would have controlled the fire and put it out. There are two reasons why the aluminum was changed for steel in ships. The first reason is that aluminum warships, suffered crack from metal fatigue, the second is that should the ship burn the aluminum melts at a lower temperature and suffers structural collapse, it also conducts heat well and this helps spread the blaze. In a ships this can be a problem because ships are large enough to burn at one end and fight the fire at another. An AFV is far too small for this to make much difference. The conditions that cause a vehicle to collapse are a sustained fire within for a long period of time. A steel hull that is subjected to the same conditions will remain intact but the steel itself will be untempered and the surface layers will be impure and brittle, essentially useless. So why did they choose to use steel for the LAV and Bradley vehicles when aluminum is rust proof? It all to do with the ballistic threat levels, aluminum works best against small arms threats, once you start moving up to HMG's steel begins to gain an advantage. Additionally grades of very high hardness steel are available for thin plates that out perform aluminum. Particular the old 5000 series aluminum that vehicles such as the M2 and M113 use. Appliqué armour for light AFV's tends to be triple or dual hardness steel. When aluminum burns it produces Aluminum oxide, either in a residue form or as an airborne particulate. As far as I know this is bio-inert, its the same stuff they make artificial hips out of. Much of the plastics in a typical AFV produce some pretty nasty stuff if burnt, and in an oxygen poor atmosphere like the close insides of an AFV a great deal of carbon monoxide will be produced. Aluminum is used for rocket fuel because compared to most rocket fuels it is relatively dense, this makes for a smaller rocket. However aluminum on its own will not work it needs to be mixed with other fuels (plus and oxidizer) to create a self burning rocket fuel. I don't really know why it is used over Iron but I suspect Aluminum has a higher energy density since the number of molecular bonds broken per unit mass is greater." Dan Robertson

Addendum. The example of HMS Sheffield is widely used in discussions about aluminum burning. This is completely erroneous. The Sheffield was constructed entirely of steel.

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โˆ™ 2011-09-13 19:48:02
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Q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of aluminum alloy over steel in ship construction?
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What are the advantages and disadvantages of aluminum alloy over steel in vehicles?

Some Advantages: Aluminum structures can be lighter than steel structures, resulting in lighter vehicles, which can increase performance and/or operating economy. Aluminum alloys are more corrosion resistant in typical vehicular applications. Some Disadvantages: Aluminum alloys are more difficult/expensive to weld. Aluminum alloys don't have the strengths levels of steel alloys. This must be accommodated in design.

What are the advantages of using skeletal structures in buildings?

The skeletal structures are made of an aluminum or steel alloy and its main purpose is to provide support to any new building during construction.

What is a passenger plane made of?

The main construction is an aluminum-copper precipitation hardened alloy.

What is the difference between aluminum alloy and aluminum?

what is difference between aluminum alloy and aluminum

Is alluminum a alloy?

No, aluminum is not an alloy. Aluminum is an element.

What are the disadvantages of aluminum alloy for car bodies?

Advantages: 1. Aluminum does not rust like iron (steel). 2. Aluminum is much lighter than steel, making the car more fuel efficient. Disadvantages: 1. More expensive. 2. More damage in accidents. 3.Probably harder to reshape after the accident (more expensive to fix after an accident.)

How is pure aluminum different from an alloy of aluminum?

Aluminum alloy has precipitates of alloying elements which improves the mechanical property of aluminum but pure aluminum is weak.

Is aluminum an alloy like steel?

Aluminum is an elemental metal, but much of what is sold and used industrially as "aluminum" is indeed an alloy not pure aluminum.

What item is an alloy?

the wheels on my car are aluminum alloy

Which is heavier aluminum wheels or alloy wheels?


What are alloys explain its advantage and disadvantage?

An alloy is generally a combination of two or more metals. There are many alloys. The advantages and disadvantages would depend on which alloy and the uses to which it was put.

What is alloy used for in an aircraft?

Alloy is defined as a metal made from a combination of two or more metals or chemical elements. Almost all metals used in the construction of aircraft are some type of alloy of a base metal, such as Aluminum or Iron(steel). There are very few metals that is NOT an alloy: One example would be copper wires.You did not specify which type alloy.Aluminum Alloy is the primary metal used in most modern aircraft construction. It contains aluminum which is a powder in its pure form used in combination of other metals to give it strength.Other alloys are Titanium alloy and various types of Steel, such as stainless steel and high-carbon steel alloys of various hardness and strength.

Does aluminium alloys rust?

Aluminum alloys are selected as raw materials for industrial supplies, ranging from various mechanical equipment to small internal parts. Why are aluminum alloys frequently used by factories? Some customers answered: Because the aluminum alloy will not rust! It will only turn black, but it will not affect its performance.So is aluminum alloy really rusty? In fact, aluminum alloy is easier to rust than iron. When the surface becomes black, it is the performance of aluminum alloy rust. Does aluminum alloy rust need to be treated?The way aluminum alloys rust is different from other metals. For example, after iron rust, the generated rust is loose, covering the surface of the iron, and oxygen can continue to oxidize the iron in the layer through the rust until the entire piece is rusted. After the aluminum alloy rusts, the black substance formed is aluminum oxide, which is a layer of dense substance, which will be tightly attached to the surface of the aluminum alloy metal to prevent the aluminum from continuing to react with oxygen and protect the aluminum products from oxide film. Layer effect. Therefore, the aluminum alloy rust does not need to be treated, and the aluminum alloy will automatically generate a protective film.If you want to use the aluminum alloy to maintain a bright and bright luster, you can choose the aluminum alloy material after oxidation treatment and electroplating treatment. Jiangyin Mingding Aluminum Products Co., Ltd. can provide you with various types and materials of aluminum products, if necessary, can also provide aluminum products processing services.

How are Alloy Wheels defined?

Alloy Wheels are automobile wheels which are made from an alloy of aluminum and magnesium.

Why are aroplanes made from aluminum alloy rather than pure aluminum?

Pure aluminum is not strong enough as building material for airplanes. Alloy with Al are stronger.

What 2 metals was aluminum made of?

Aluminum, itself, is not an alloy. You may be referring to an aluminum alloy, which is a mix of two metals(often aluminum and steel) intended to combine their characteristics. Aluminum is one of the base metals.

Does aluminum alloy rust?


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The aluminum alloy AA 6061 is not soluble in water at room temperature.

Is aluminun foil an alloy?

More than likely. Basically, aluminum foil is the cheapest metal the foil company can get when they are buying, because aluminum foil is sold on price. And since most aluminum on the market is alloy...well, alloy is what you get.

What does adding copper to aluminum create?

Aluminum alloy ... a stronger metal.

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stronger than aluminum

What alloy is for lithe aluminum?

there could be several different lithium-aluminum alloys.

What is aluminum alloy 226?

It is a casting alloy with Silicon and Copper similar to CA 313

How much does Aluminum Alloy cost?