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Development of innovative materials for better thermal management

Funded by the European Innovation Council (EIC) in the framework of the Horizon Europe research programme, the project THERMODUST – A paradigm shift for the future's thermal management devices through radical innovation in new materials and additive manufacturing – kicked off. The project involves five partners: Trinity College Dublin (IE, coordinator), Politecnico Milano (Department of Mechanical Engineering), University OF Twente (NL), University of Barcelona (ES) and Institute Josef Stefan (SI). The topic of the project is to develop innovative materials based on the usage of metal powders functionalised with 2D materials (like graphene) to be used to build elements allowing better handling of thermal flux to improve the thermal performances of existing systems to 40%. These materials can considerably impact emission reduction, the environmental sustainability of the industrial system and meet the climate neutrality goal of the European Union by 2050. This project significantly affects diverse strategic industries, like electronics, aerospace and autonomous vehicles. In the latest, their performances are affected by environmental conditions and associated ways of thermal exchange. This objective will be reached by meeting other partial objectives: defining a new process for the dispersion of 2D materials in metallic powder; providing complete microstructural, mechanical and thermal characterisation; developing a model through which to predict their features and applications in practical cases of interest, such as cooling systems of electronic components, car and aerospace systems electric batteries.
The MeccPolimi team, led by Sara Bagherifard, is mainly involved in developing the additive process to build components starting from functionalised powders and for the mechanical characterisation of the developed materials.

Concerning the process, the cold spray will be the referral additive technique for solids, which exploits the kinetic energy of the powders accelerated at supersonic speed via pre-heated pressurised gas. By avoiding powder fusion, this process allows for preserving the features of the powders and ensuring high efficiency together with a high deposition rate (up to 25Kg/h). For this purpose, the aim is to develop cold spray numerical models leading to the optimal choice of process parameters functional to the properties of the involved powders.
Concerning the mechanical and microstructural characterisation, all aspects of interest will be analysed, from the feature of the powders to the final manufactured product, to evaluate their behaviour in working situations in heat-transferring systems. Thermo-mechanical fatigue, wear due to high temperatures, static resistance, and stability of heat transfer properties related to the working cycles will be investigated in our DMEC labs, working closely with our project partners.
On November 1st, 2022, THERMODUST officially kicked off and will last for four years, during which we will keep you updated on developments and achieved results.