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UA Metalcasting Center receives federal contract.

The University of Alabama Metal Casting Technology Center in Tuscaloosa has received a $919,000 cooperative agreement contract from the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE).

DOE also has designated the center as one of two National Metal Casting Research Institutes.

The center will use the money to conduct research projects that have practical applications in the U.S. foundry industry, said Tom Piwonka, the center's director and a metallurgical engineering professor.

Under the agreement, made possible through the Metalcasting Competitiveness Research Act of 1990, UA must secure matching funds from nonfederal sources.

That support has been pledged by private industry, industrial support societies and the university, raising the project's total funding to $1.8 million, Piwonka said. The center has received $368,000 of the federal funding to date.

"We will continue to place a special interest on trying to meet the needs of Alabama foundries, as we always have," Piwonka said. "But now we are able to serve any foundry in the country that has a problem our research faculty can address.

"We have always practiced and will continue to practice good, solid, fundamental research with practical applications. We'll continue to work with individual foundries as well as working through the industry's technical societies, such as the American Foundrymen's Society."

UA and the University of Northern Iowa have the only such research centers in the U.S., though more may be created through

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Projects supported by the funding include work in improving the integrity of steel and aluminum castings, and new methods in melting, solidification techniques, and core and shell removal from molds.

The projects were selected based on industry need and recommendations from the Industry Advisory Board formed by DOE, Piwonka said.

Matching funds will come from AFS; Steel Founders' Society of America; Electric Power Research Institute; Caterpillar, Inc.; Citation Corp.; Cast-Fab Technologies; Rocketdyne Corp.; and members of the UA Metal Casting Technology Center.

Additional support has been pledged by Metaullics Systems Div./Howmet Corp.; General Motors Powertrain Operations; Universal Energy Systems; Reynolds Metals; PCC Airfoils; Magma Foundry Technologies, Inc.; Morris Bean, Inc.; and UA.

The center's research team consists of UA professors Doru Stefanescu, John Berry, Marvin McKinley, Atly Jefcoat, Chuck Evces, Gene Carden and Charles Warren. UA-Birmingham professors Barry Andrews and Ray Thompson, and AFS gold medalist Charles Bates of the Southern Research Institute also are part of the team.

Some 18,000 Alabamians and 230,000 people nationwide are employed by the metalcasting and related industries, according to the Alabama Cast Metals Assn.

"The foundry industry has lost 100 foundries per year for the last 10 years," said R. Conner Warren, former AFS president and executive vice president of Citation Corp. "This is the kind of investment that will help us be more competitive. It will help develop procedures and processes that will make us more efficient. This is one piece of legislation that will really help us."

Piwonka credited Alabama congressmen Tom Bevill, Ben Erdreich and Claude Harris, as well as U.S. Sens. Howell Heflin and Richard Shelby, for securing federal support for the program. The legislation was originated in the House by Erdreich.

"There has been a tremendous amount of cooperation among the University of Alabama, the University of Alabama of Birmingham, Southern Research Institute and private industry to make this center a reality," Erdreich said. "This kind of cooperation is essential if we are to be competitive in global trade in the future."
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Title Annotation:University of Alabama Metal Casting Technology Center; Department of Energy cooperative agreement contract
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Jul 1, 1992
Words:578
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