PNNL creates lightweight metal - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

PNNL creates lightweight metal

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RICHLAND, WA - "Friction Stir Dovetailing"- Have you ever heard of that? Probably not…That's the name of a project the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is working on.

This new project is a machine that is able to combine steel and aluminum in order to create a lighter-weight metal for military vehicles.

Scott Whalen is a Senior Research Engineer at PNNL and he says "The material is actually solid," and to put it in the simplest terms: "It's almost like putting your finger in honey and stirring it around."

In more scientific terms: this is how is all works…

"The elements of the aluminum and the steel are diffusing together right at the interface to create a metallic glue," said Scott Whalen.

Whalen says this would have a huge impact on the way military vehicles operate because the device is able to make vehicles not only fuel efficient but also more agile.

The project goes beyond just military vehicles too. In the future passenger vehicles may also be able to use it.

"We are looking at passenger vehicles too. Anytime you can get rid of steel, you can make the car lighter," said Whalen.