Three-dimensional granular model of semi-solid metallic alloys undergoing solidification: Fluid flow and localization of feeding
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A 3D granular model which simulates fluid flow within solidifying alloys with globular microstructure such as found in grain-refined Al alloys is presented. The model geometry within a Representative Volume Element (RVE) consists of a set of prismatic triangular elements representing the intergranular liquid channels. The pressure field within the liquid channels is calculated using a Finite Elements (FE) method assuming a Poiseuille flow within each channel and flow conservation at triple lines. The fluid flow is induced by the solidification shrinkage and openings at grain boundaries due to the deformation of the coherent solid.. The granular model predictions are validated against bulk data calculated with averaging techniques. The results show that a fluid flow simulation of globular semi-solid material is able to reproduce both a map of the 3D intergranular pressure, and the localization of feeding within the mushy zone. A new Hot Cracking Sensitivity Coefficient (HCSC) is then proposed. Based on a mass balance performed over a solidifying isothermal volume element, this coefficient accounts for tensile deformation of the semi-solid domain and for the induced intergranular liquid feeding. The fluid flow model is then used to calculate the pressure drop in the mushy zone during the Direct Chill (DC) casting of aluminum alloy billets. The predicted pressure demonstrates that, deep in the mushy zone where the permeability is low, the local pressure can be significantly lower than the pressure predicted by averaging techniques.
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