Researchers in Russia have announced the development of an unsinkable aluminium alloy by making the substance porus.
St. Petersburg’s Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University’s (SPbPU) Laboratory of Light Materials and Structures developed the breakthrough material by introducing gas into the process of remelting while the aluminium alloy was in its liquid state. In addition to adding buoyancy, scientists say the process also improves the material’s stiffness, sound, and heat insulation properties.
“A high porosity level can be used to decrease the density of structural elements, e.g. sheets. The density can be decreased even lower than the density of water. Resulting structural elements would be unsinkable. And its usage in shipbuilding will ensure unsinkability even with a leak in the hull,” explained the deputy head of the Laboratory of Light Materials and Structures SPbPU Oleg Panchenko.
This new alloy also overcomes certain problems encountered with thinner materials with a thickness of 1 millimeter (0.04”) or less. Such materials often have sufficient strength for the tasks they are asked to carry out, but bending or joining them deforms and/or weakens the materials. With porous aluminium, thickness may be increased to allow for such manipulation without loss of strength or addition of weight.
This breakthrough represents the next step in porous materials, taking the baton from Japanese researchers who previously developed material that is entirely porous but without limiting the distribution of pores to either homogeneous or heterogeneous layouts. Researchers at SPbPU overcame this limitation by using solid material, allowing for double layers of the material that limits porosity to one side, enabling added strength for welding or other joining methods.
Founded in 1899 as the Saint Petersburg Polytechnic Institute, SPbPU is considered to be among the top research facilities in Russia and the CIS. It is widely recognized as an educational and research leader in industrial engineering and chemical engineering, among other fields.