Analyzing microstructure and mechanical properties between standard aluminum alloys and beverage can aluminum; Analyzing risks and standards associated with e-micro-mobility devices, their construction, and their implementation

Kim, Justin, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Ma, Ji, EN-Mat Sci/Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Groves, James, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Ferguson, Sean, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

A significant contribution to global warming can be associated with the dominance of the automobile. With how unsustainable the automobile is and as the push for sustainability increases, the need for multimodal transportation--replacing automobile dominance--increases. To travel local distances in more sustainable manners, e-micro-mobility devices were constructed. However, there are barriers that do not allow the widespread adoption of e-micro-mobility. Optimization of the technology itself will aid to lower these barriers, and part of this research will explore optimizing materials for e-micro-mobility devices to lower cost and safety barriers currently blocking widespread adoption. There will also be social consequences following this technology. There are differences in expert opinions of risk vs. local government’s, and there is a lack of standards/policies pertaining to use of e-micro-mobility devices on roads. This research also aims to show the issues in current legal infrastructure, and the issues in racial disparity in users.

The goal of the technical portion of the project was to compare the performance of recycled aluminum vs. standard aluminum alloys. Through SEM imaging, XRD analysis, and tensile testing, different microstructures and phases were able to be seen by comparing 2024 aluminum, 6061 aluminum, and recycled aluminum obtained from coke cans (3000 series aluminum), which helped to explain the difference in mechanical properties seen between each of the alloys. The potential of using recycled aluminum for e-micromobility is then discussed.

The STS research of this project sought to use the risks and standards framework to bring to light the societal issues that are currently preventing widespread adoption of e-micromobility. Through in-depth literature research and technical interview, the differences in perceived risk between experts and between the government/automobile companies was able to be found, and the origin for lack of current federal regulations as to the design, materials, mechanical, or manufacturing requirements of e-micro-mobility devices (in other words, the misconception that automobiles are still low-risk) was also mentioned.

Although the projects were fruitful, it was humbling to realize how little one could accomplish alone within a research project. The ideal vision at the beginning of the school year was to accomplish enough research to determine a suitable electric bicycle component to replace with an 100% recycled aluminum alloy - however this was not able to be accomplished in time. Should one continue this research, one should perform research into the mechanical property requirements of each component of the e-bike, and compare the results to that of the recycled aluminum properties to determine the viability of completely replacing the material with recycled aluminum.
Special thanks should be extended to Wenhao Lin, Fanyue Kong, Lin Gao, Sebring Smith, and Prof. Natasha Smith, for aid in characterization work and obtaining laboratory data. This project would also not have been possible without the help of advisors Dr. James Groves and Dr. Ji Ma, who patiently and graciously led this project to success through their oversight.

BS (Bachelor of Science)

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Materials Science and Engineering
Technical Advisor: Ji Ma and James Groves
STS Advisor: Sean Ferguson

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