Speaking at the Montreal Chapter of ASM, Professor Hani Henein, FASM, University of Alberta, gave an entertaining lecture on the work of his research group in the field of micro-gravity as it related to rapid solidification of metals. He showed some interesting microstructure changes that were observed in experiments with aluminum-iron alloy and in D2 tool steel.

What has microgravity research to do with additive manufacturing and powder processing on earth? This question was very ably explored and answered by Professor Hani Henein, University of Alberta (Fig. 1), in a recent lecture at a meeting of the Montreal Chapter of ASM International. The occasion was the 2019/2020 Brian Ives lecture organized by the Canada Council of ASM International. The Brian Ives Lectureship is one of three awards made annually by the Canada Council of ASM International, each to honor a Canadian past-president of ASM. Brian Ives was a long-time professor of materials science and engineering at McMaster University and was president of ASM in 1985.

Professor Henein has had a distinguished academic and professional career since graduating from McGill in 1975. He is the current president of AIME, the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers. Professor Henein gave a fascinating account of recent researches into the effects of gravity on materials behavior, with specific relevance to rapid solidification of metal alloys. He began by pointing out that there was no such thing as zero gravity – even in space “there is still a little bit of gravity”. He outlined the various “micro-gravity” facilities used by his group and his collaborators. A laboratory-sized drop tube and parabolic flights provided about one second and about 30 s of time in micro-gravity, respectively. Sub-orbital rockets and the International Space Station, provided minutes and hours of experimental time for the latter. These last three techniques used electromagnetic levitation (EML) experiments that were also used on earth. The work is all collaborative with other team members in various European countries. Three of Henein’s group have flown on parabolic flights in an Airbus plane out of Bordeaux, France, and one has participated in a sub-orbital rocket launch in the north of Sweden. The ISS experiments are not done by astronauts but are remotely controlled from various locations, in Henein’s case from Cologne, Germany, using pre-programmed control modules.

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