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.
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.
@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.
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: 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.
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.
What should be the perception of a product’s real-world performance with regard to the published spec sheet? While it is easy to assume that the product will operate according to spec, what variables should be considered, and is that a designer obligation or a customer responsibility? Or both?
Biomimicry has already found its way into the development of robots and new materials, with researchers studying animals and nature to come up with new innovations. Now thanks to researchers in Boston, biomimicry could even inform the future of electrical networks for next-generation displays.
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