Developed by scientists at Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (SPbPU) of Russia, a new, extra buoyant aluminum material may make ships and other structures virtually unsinkable, and can also be used to incorporate other advantages. A unique structural modification can essentially turn a reliable, versatile industrial alloy into a new type of foam.

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Unsinkable Ships And Insulated Structures

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Scientists created the aluminum foam by adding gas to re-melted, molten aluminum material, which then gave it a highly porous structure. The reduced density of the aluminum means that it can can float as easily as cork or conventional foam. According to SPbPU Laboratory of Light Materials and Structures deputy head, Oleg Panchenko, if a ship’s hull were to be made with the highly porous material, the vessel would be unsinkable even if the hull were breached.  The aluminum could also be used to improve the rigidity of a structure and to enhance sound and thermal insulation.

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Layered For Use With Components

While a similar development in porous aluminum has come from scientists in Japan—and other researchers have explored the development and use of composite metal foams—the development out of SPbPU is significant in its variable structure. Their layered version includes a portion of the aluminum that remains solid while internal layers are porous. This arrangement provides a greater versatility for industrial applications. By increasing the density of a portion of the material, mechanical components such as bolts and screws, and welded joints could still be incorporated for structural applications.


What are your thoughts on an unsinkable, insulating, and structurally sound metal material? In what other applications would porous aluminum be useful? Comment and let us know what you think.

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