Tesla, Inc. submitted a patent application, titled “System and Method for Facilitating Pulsed Spray Quench of Extruded Objects.” The patent application describes a quenching process that aims to increase the strength, rigidity, and energy absorption of 6000 series extruded aluminum components.
During the extrusion process, the microstructure of the aluminum can have a significant impact on the performance of the final product. As the patent application states, extruded aluminum is often subjected to a quenching process that rapidly cools the aluminum profile. Quenching can lock the Mg2Si particles in the aluminum matrix of the alloy — facilitating improved mechanical properties of the final product.
The system described in the patent application includes a quench chamber installed after the extrusion die, which receives the profile after extrusion. The chamber includes at least one pulsed width modulation (PWM) atomizing spray nozzle, as well as a control module configured to independently control the liquid pressure, gas pressure, spray frequency, duty cycle, and flow rate of the PWM atomizing spray nozzle(s).
Tesla uses 6000 series alloys for all of its vehicles, from the Model S to its forthcoming Model Y (which will features an aluminum and steel hybrid body structure). Using aluminum throughout its vehicles (particularly in its crash management systems), the car company has a history of producing cars with high vehicle safety ratings.
Using the new quenching process proposed by Tesla, the company has an opportunity to implement even safer aluminum crash management systems within its vehicles.