Unlike most steels, aluminum does not become brittle at low temperatures, rather it strengthens and its ductility and hardness increase. This must be taken into account when selecting materials for metal parts that will be used at extremely low temperatures.

Allied forces experienced the consequences of a poor selection of materials for several ships built for service during World War II. They recorded hundreds of significant cracks in the hull and deck. Twelve of them broke in half.

The problem was that the steel used for the hulls of ships was subject to fracture when exposed to temperatures below a certain level. The material went from ductile to fragile, and that’s when the hulls began to crack. The fracture tenacity for aluminum is almost independent of temperature. Aluminum strengthens when temperatures drop. Steel does not, even when using stronger steel.

Aluminum in the Arctic

Offshore oil and gas activity is increasing in areas of extreme cold. In the event that there is an oil spill, as these areas are very sensitive to pollution, this can be drastic for the environment, which is why it is so important to work with solid materials that resist temperatures even below 60º.

The American Society for Metal has developed studies in which it shows that aluminum at low temperatures performs much better than steel, since it increases its ductility, improves corrosion resistance and does not increase fragility.

Change in tenacity and ductility content

Aluminum alloys are often used for cryogenic and other low temperature applications because their toughness and ductility is relatively constant within the temperature range of -60 ° C to 20 ° C.

Here is an example: the Bharati research station in Antarctica was built with aluminum windows and facades that can withstand some of the most extreme weather conditions on earth. Resists hurricane winds, abnormally high thermal and mechanical loads caused by blizzards, large amounts of snow and temperatures of -60 ° C and below.

It is suggested to consider the use of aluminum for applications that are subject to such conditions. Offshore applications such as heli-platforms, houses, underwater protection covers and frames for intervention equipment and process modules, prefabricated walls and stairs, corridors and handrail systems