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Iron contamination of aluminium alloys during recycling limits or prevents reuse of the aluminium in premium applications due to the loss of mechanical properties. There is a significant lack of effective methods to remove iron from aluminium alloys directly.
Researchers at the University of Birmingham are overcoming this, having developed a method to separate iron-enriched liquids from the molten aluminium alloys using a static magnetic field and a temperature gradient. The aluminium alloy is placed within a temperature gradient (created by using two or more heaters with differing temperatures), wherein they form two regions: a partially melted region, and a fully liquid region. Applying a static homogeneous magnetic field to the molten alloys for an amount of time allows the formation of an iron-enriched liquid layer at the interface between the two regions. The partially melted region will deplete from iron. The iron-enriched liquid layer can be removed directly by various methods (e.g. pouring, ladling or pumping) or by machining after solidification.