Leading aluminium specialist MQP has developed an even more powerful version of its top-selling grain refiner to support customers in the high specification segments.

Optifine 5:1 125 builds on the success of its standard Optifine TiBAl grain refiner, which already consistently cuts addition rates by 70% in a wide range of aluminium alloy compositions to reduce surface blemishes, cracking and defects.

The new, premium version can cut addition rates by up to 85% and is 35% more powerful than the current Optifine, a particular game-changer for producers of automative body sheets (ABS) for the electric vehicles market.

John Courtenay, chairman of MQP, said the launch of Optifine 5:1 125 would help ensure that the sheet quality casthouses were better able to meet manufacturers’ rising expectations while cutting costs even further.

“Many of our customers now incorporate production of high specification body parts for electric vehicles into their operations,” he said. “Our new, super powerful version of Optifine, which has a minimum relative efficiency of 120%, will only strengthen this proposition, meeting our customers’ needs head-on.

“This is particularly the case for big plants focussing on producing ABS who need to drastically reduce the particle count in the melt and achieve superior quality. It is a premium product, but one that will see a return on investment in a short amount of time.”

“Cutting addition rates by up to 85% is not an incremental improvement, but a massive and exciting step in grain refiner development.”

Optifine 5:1 125 was developed on the back of pioneering research MQP and parent company STNM is conducting with BCAST at Brunel University London.

The three-year project, studying the fundamentals of nucleation using High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy (HRTEM), followed BCAST’s discovery that the key to superior grain refinement was the presence of a monoatomic layer of Al3Ti on the surface of TiB2 particles in the grain refiner.

Knowledge gained from the first year’s work paved the way for Optifine 5:1 125, in which 90% of TiB2 particles are coated with the Al3Ti layer. By comparison, a standard grain refiner with only 50% efficiency contains less than 20% of coated TiB2 particles.

John added: “The inconsistency of grain refiners on the global market is well-documented and has meant casthouses have struggled to eliminate cracking and maintain the same grain size in the melt every time. This has resulted in scrapped charges, product downgrades and higher processing costs.

“Optifine changed all this, one key example being the elimination of ‘razors streaks’ from critical, high surface quality components in car assembly. Usually, defects would only be detected at the end of the production process when the part was anodised – getting rid of defects at such an early stage improved productivity in the plant.

“Our even more powerful version will go even further in working towards today’s specific industry needs.”

Optifine is now in routine usage in 34 major casthouses worldwide and has been successfully used to produce more than 16 million tonnes of aluminium in the last 10 years.