Love to see these efforts around creating renewable versions of proven materials and carrying over many of the same characteristics so they have high utility for materials engineers. Makes it very easy to go the sustainability route when the choices are just part of good, everyday design practices.
@Ann: Are you sure that the density is 1.45 g/cm³? This is equivalent to 90 pounds per cubic foot. At this density, the foam would sink in water. The density of a typical polyurethane sound-absorbing foam is around 2 pounds per cubic foot (about 0.03 g/cm³). Are you sure the density wasn't given in U.S. units, rather than metric units?
Generally, the sound absorption of foams depends on the frequency of the sound. Any indication of what frequency range this foam is best suited for?
Also, any word on whether Dow has any plans to market this material in sheet form? Or will it be sold only as an injectable cavity foam?
Finally, how does the cost of the soy-based polyurethane compare to petroleum-based polyurethanes? This will definitely be a big factor in its acceptance.
I also think it's cool that this cavity foam using a non-food renewable material that's a byproduct of food production. Many materials companies are getting on the bandwagon to ensure that their feedstocks are really green: both renewable and non-competitive with the human food supply.
@Ann: Calling soybean oil a "byproduct of food production" rather than a food product is a little disingenuous. Soybean oil is one of the most widely-consumed cooking oils.
It's true that the soy flakes, which remain after the oil is extracted, are used as animal feed (and for soy protein for human consumption). Using the oil as an industrial feedstock wouldn't affect this use.
Of course, soybean oil is already widely used in industry -- for instance, it's used to make ink -- and it seems unlikely that the (relatively) small amount of additional soybean oil which would be used to make these foams would have any impact on the price or supply of cooking oil.
Dave, the spec Dow provided was 1.45 gm/cc. Note that that's 25 percent less dense than the previous product at 2.0 gm/cc. James did not provide price details, or mention sheet forms of this product or any other future plans regarding it.
Dave, at least one of the specs were on their presentations and they were also given in the interview. I find it tough to believe that anyone at Dow would mistake units of measurement. I've sent an email asking them to verify the spec.
We've just heard back from Allan James, the person I interviewed at Dow. The spec he gave me was, in fact, wrong--thanks to Dave Palmer for pointing that out. James says the correct measurements are 1.45 pcf for BETAFOAM Renue and 2.0 pcf for the product being replaced.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
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