Site: Nagoya University Furo-Cho, Chikusa-ku Nagoya 464-01, Japan Date Visited: January 10, 1996
WTEC Attendees: D. Bertram (report author), D. Apelian, G. Holdridge Host: Prof. Shigeo Asai, Department of Materials Processing Engineering
Professor Asai's work focuses on the application of electromagnetic fields to the processing of materials. He reviewed the basic ideas of some his research projects during our visit. His work is well supported by the Ministry of Education (Monbusho), as well as the MITI.
The Department of Materials Processing Engineering has 16 professors, approximately 50-60 graduate students, and approximately 100 undergraduates per year. Prof. Asai has three assistant professors and an assistant working full time on research. He personally spends 80% of his time on research.
Although not developed by Prof. Asai, Nippon Steel is currently experimenting with continuous casting clad stainless steel over a carbon steel core. The process produces a fine definition and bonding between the two materials and thereby allows rolling to a much thinner gauge. The fine definition is produced by a magnetic field that keeps the two liquids separated (suppressing convection) in the caster's mold. Conventional methods of producing clad material produce a bond by hot rolling sheets together or expensive plasma spraying. Prof. Asai showed the WTEC team a 170 mm x 800 mm sample/test piece made by Nippon Steel.
Prof. Asai indicated that funding for researchers' salaries is generally not included in Monbusho research project budgets. Researcher salaries are also not reported in Monbusho aggregate research funding reports.
The "regular" Monbusho research allocation for Asai's group at Nagoya is about ¥5-6 million/year. This allocation supports research conducted by Prof. Asai and four other people. The 12 month salaries for those five people combined add up to another approximately ¥5 million/year. Based on the above figure, this means that Monbusho reports his research at ¥5-6 million/year, whereas the real cost is probably much higher. Prof. Asai teaches 2 classes each week; his other four people don't teach at all (though they may help him occasionally with his classes).
Prof. Asai recently received a $200,000 increment for his research projects from Monbusho. This covers two years.
In addition to the above, Prof. Asai receives approximately ¥5 million/year from industry for R&D support.
Last year's economic stimulus package from MITI included $100 million for R&D -- about 100 projects at $1 million each. Prof. Asai did not receive funding under that initiative.
MITI has provided funding for a "soft contact steel casting project" utilizing magneto-hydrodynamics (MHD) for steel casting. The budget is $24 million over six years, beginning in FY 1995. This project budget is allocated among nine Japanese steel companies. This relates directly to Asai's work in use of electromagnetic force for metals processing. The project is being managed for MITI by the Japanese Research and Development Center for Metals (JRCM), which is in Tokyo. The JRCM is an association of Japanese metal companies cooperating on pre-competitive R&D. The director of JRCM at the time of the WTEC visit was a former VP of Nippon Steel.
Prof. Asai sits on an advisory committee appointed by the International Superconducting Technology Center (ISTEC) to evaluate possible applications of very large size, very strong field supermagnets. (ISTEC is funded by MITI.) Presumably a new MITI R&D program may stem from this at a later date.
Professor Asai discussed a number of his current projects -- cold-crucible melting (for TiAl), soft-contacting solidification, synchronizing imposition of a magnetic field with mold oscillation, inclusion removal from liquid metals, the movement of primary silicon in hypereutectic Al-Si alloys, and the application of magnetization force for non-metallic components
The following is a discussion of these projects. Because of project inter-relations this narrative of Prof. Asai's discussion cuts across a number of the specific topics listed previously.
Additional details on these concepts are provided in a number of published technical papers. (See references below.)
This technology when commercialized could make widespread use of contaminated aluminum scrap feasible for critical casting applications.
Funding from the Japanese government is significant since some of Asai's work could well produce significant energy saving for the country. This is an example of Japan focusing its research and development funding on specific problem-solving situations.
Other benefits from these research projects will be in the improved filtration and refinement of non-ferrous alloys.
Although research funding is significant, improvements to the physical plant at Nagoya University also might help attract much needed additional scientific talent to metal casting research.
Asai, Shigeo. 1989. "Birth and Recent Activities of Electromagnetic Processing of Materials." ISIJ International, Vol. 29 No. 12, pp. 981-992.
Iwai, Kazuhiko, Tamaoki, Ryouji, Sassa, Kensuke, and ASAI, Shigeo. 1993. "Development Of An Induction Melting Process For Materials With Low Electrical Conductivity Or High Melting Point." Metallurgical Transactions B, Volume 24B, April, p. 259.
Li, Tingju, Nagaya, Shinji, Sassa, Kensuke and Asai, Shigeo. 1995. "Study Of Meniscus Behavior and Surface Properties During Casting in a High-Frequency Magnetic Field." Metallurgical And Materials Transactions B, Volume 26B, April, p. 353.
Park, Joon Pyou, Tanaka, Yosiko, Sassa, Kensuke and Asai, Shigeo. 1994. "Elimination of Tramp Elements in Molten Metal using Electromagnetic Force". International Symposium on Electromagnetic Processing of Materials, Nagoya, ISIJ.
Park, Joon-Pyou, Sassa, Kensuke and Asai, Shigeo. 1995. "Improvement Of Wear-Resistance In Hyper-Eutectic Al-Si Alloy By Surface Concentration Of Primary Silicon Using Electromagnetic Force." Journal of the Japan Inst. Metals, Vol. 59, No. 7, pp. 733-739.
Park, Joon-Pyou, Sassa, Kensuke and Asai, Shigeo. 1995. "Elimination Of Iron In Molten Al-Si Alloys By Electromagnetic Force." Journal of the Japan Inst. Metals, Vol. 59, No. 3, pp. 312-318.
Tanaka, Yoshiko, Sassa, Kensuke, Iwai, Kazuhiko and Asai, Shigeo. 1995. "Separation Of Non-Metallic Inclusions From Molten Metal Using Traveling Magnetic Field."
Takasu, Tomio, Sassa, Kensuke and Asai, Shigeo. 1993. "A Glass Melting By Use Of A High Frequency Induction Skull Melting Method With Submerged Heating Elements And Its Heat Conduction Analysis."