Thermal stability, determining the material ability of retaining its properties at required temperatures over extended service time, is becoming the next frontier for aluminum alloys. Its improvement would substantially expand their range of structural applications, especially in automotive and aerospace industries. This report explains the fundamentals of thermal stability; definitions, the properties involved; and the deterioration indicators during thermal/thermomechanical exposures, including an impact of accidental fire, and testing techniques. For individual classes of alloys, efforts aimed at identifying factors stabilizing their microstructure at service temperatures are described. Particular attention is paid to attempts of increasing the current upper service limit of high-temperature grades. In addition to alloying aluminum with a variety of elements to create the thermally stable microstructure, in particular, transition and rare-earth metals, parallel efforts are explored through applying novel routes of alloy processing, such as rapid solidification, powder metallurgy and additive manufacturing, engineering alloys in a liquid state prior to casting, and post-casting treatments. The goal is to overcome the present barriers and to develop novel aluminum alloys with superior properties that are stable across the temperature and time space, required by modern designs.
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