(SOUND EFFECT: Fife and drum music) 'Foam'-menting a Revolution.
I'm Bob Karson with the discovery files -- new advances in science and engineering from the National Science Foundation.
Foam, shaving cream (SOUND EFFECT: shaving cream), bubble bath (SOUND EFFECT: bubbles), whipped cream (SOUND EFFECT: whipped cream), '&oceans white with foam' (SOUND EFFECT: ocean). It may be hard to imagine that a bumper made of foam could save your life. (SOUND EFFECT: screech -- splat!) It might if it were a new generation metal foam, developed by professor Afsaneh Rabiei and her team at NC State.
Their five-year mission has created a new foam composite material that's making an impact, because of its impact resistance, and extreme light weight.
There are two innovations that make this new metal foam superior to others: first, each cell (or bubble) is the same size. Secondly, each of the cell walls is supported by a metallic matrix for additional support and impact absorption.
What better way to put it to the test than to crash a car at 28 miles per hour (SOUND EFFECT: car crash) with two pieces of the material underneath the bumper? Careful measurement of the impact that would be felt by passengers showed that a 28-mile-per-hour crash would feel like only a 5-mph crash.
I hope you're absorbing this, 'cause the bumper sure did.
The material weighs three times less than bulk steel. It's strong, light and absorbs impact. Expect to see it being used for cars, boats, armor, trains -- even medical devices.
Definitely a case of 'foam' over function.
"The Discovery Files" covers projects funded by the government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you, by you! Learn more at nsf.gov or on our podcast.