Foams and other highly porous materials with a cellular structure are known to have interesting physical and mechanical properties, such as low specific weight, low thermal conductivity, high energy, and high acoustic absorption coefficient. Industry is facing many challenging issues with these novel materials in terms of fabrication, modeling, and characterization of metallic foams. Scanning Electron Microscope images are being used to characterize cellular structures of ultra-lightweight silicon carbide, vitreous carbon, and aluminum foams at UALR.
The Arkansas Space Grant Consortium has funded James Playford and Dr. S. Midturi of Mechanical Engineering Technology Program to study the thermo-mechanical properties of aluminum and stainless steel ceramic cellular materials for energy absorption, particulate filtration, sound absorption, vibration damping, and thermal insulation applications.
The results from this research presented by James Playford, an undergraduate student from the Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) Program, has earned him First Prize at the ASME Student Professional Leadership Conference held at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville Campus in March 2011, and also a First Prize for the Undergraduate Research under the Physical Sciences category at the 95th Arkansas Academy of Sciences Conference held at the University of Arkansas at Monticello campus in April 2011. This continued research at UALR offers high potential for developing new industrial products for thermal shielding, energy, and acoustic absorption applications.