Aluminum Foam Could Revolutionize Shipping, Cut Emissions

Cargo ships account for a massive amount of carbon emissions each year, so reducing emissions is a global priority. One of the easiest ways to do that is to reduce the weight of said cargo ships. A group of EU researchers have developed a new material that is tough, lighter than water and could cut ships’ weight by as much as 30 to 50 percent while maintaining the payload capability. That would take the equivalent of 55 to 60 trucks’ worth of CO2 out of the equation per ship.

The material developed by the researchers is a lightweight aluminum foam that expands like a sponge when exposed to high heat. The material is sandwiched between two sheets of steel and sealed with heat, resulting in a very lightweight and tough building material. Under stress, the material bends but doesn’t break, making it ideal for traveling even through dangerous ice-packed waters.

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See more in New Materials or under Science. February, 2011.