Metal Foam Handles Heat Better Than Steel

Metal Foam Handles Heat Better Than Steel image
April 5, 2016 | Source: North Carolina State University

A new study from North Carolina State University researchers finds that novel light-weight composite metal foams (CMFs) are significantly more effective at insulating against high heat than the conventional base metals and alloys that they're made of, such as steel. The finding means the CMF is especially promising for use in storing and transporting nuclear material, hazardous materials, explosives and other heat-sensitive materials, as well as for space exploration.

"The presence of air pockets inside CMF make it so effective at blocking heat, mainly because heat travels more slowly through air than through metal," says Afsaneh Rabiei, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NC State and corresponding author of a paper on the work. The composite metal foam consists of metallic hollow spheres — made of materials such as carbon steel, stainless steel or titanium — embedded in a metallic matrix made of steel, aluminum or metallic alloys.