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.
Artificially created metamaterials are already appearing in niche applications like electronics, communications, and defense, says a new report from Lux Research. How quickly they become mainstream depends on cost-effective manufacturing methods, which will include additive manufacturing.
SpaceX has 3D printed and successfully hot-fired a SuperDraco engine chamber made of Inconel, a high-performance superalloy, using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). The company's first 3D-printed rocket engine part, a main oxidizer valve body for the Falcon 9 rocket, launched in January and is now qualified on all Falcon 9 flights.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and MIT have 3D-printed a new class of metamaterials that are both exceptionally light and have exceptional strength and stiffness. The new metamaterials maintain a nearly constant stiffness per unit of mass density, over three orders of magnitude.
Smart composites that let the material's structural health be monitored automatically and continuously are getting closer to reality. R&D partners in an EU-sponsored project have demonstrated what they say is the first complete, miniaturized, fiber-optic sensor system entirely embedded inside a fiber-reinforced composite.
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