Want lighter metal? Put holes in it.

New research out of the incredibly productive Fraunhofer Institute!

Foaming aluminium!

No really. Sounds like a headline from 1942 Germany.. but this is actually a big advance. It could cut the weight of an average sized freight ship by 1000 tons, which is a big deal as these ships are major contributors to soot and CO2 etc etc (they burn bunker fuel. Bunker fuel is, quite literally, the shit left at the bottom of a barrel. No one even really knows exactly what it is made of, but it causes rashes if it touches the skin, it is barely viscous, and it has more--hydrocarbon--chains than Mr. T). The foaming aluminium is actually a perfect material for ships.. but methinks they will be finding other uses as well:

The new material is lighter than water and has a high stiffness. Within seconds a cube made from aluminum starts to inflate into the shape of a sponge under the impact of heat. The secret of this reaction lies in the compounds of the new material. The metal is a mixture of aluminum and titanium hydride powder, which acts as a blowing agent just like yeast makes dough rise.

Tests proved the stiffness of the new material. Put under high stress it doesn’t break but only deforms. The advantage: A ship hull can travel through Northern Europe all year round, as it can even withstand ice sheets on the waters.

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