ESA researching see-through metals
by Staff Writers
Paris (ESA) Jan 10, 2018
Astronauts on the International Space Station have begun running an experiment that could shine new light on how metal alloys are formed.
How humanity has mastered metallurgy is synonymous with progress, with historians labelling periods such as the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.
Most metals used today are mixtures - alloys - of different metals, combining properties to make lighter and stronger materials.
Like baking a cake, the result depends on more than just adding the right ingredients: casting is influenced by furnace temperatures and the cooling process. Some metals are even cast in hypergravity centrifuges in the quest for the perfect alloy.
Alloys are everywhere now, from the smartphone in your pocket to aircraft. Making lighter, resistant, self-healing or even supple alloys obviously benefits industry and consumers alike.
Solving the problem of transparency
ESA is running X-ray experiments on suborbital rockets but these are limited to 13 minutes of weightlessness at a time and X-rays do not reveal all.
Instead, researchers looked at a stand-in for metals and found organic materials, carefully chosen to be transparent while solidifying like a metal.
A first batch of mixtures arrived at the Space Station on 18 December: succinonitrile, D-camphor and neopentyl glycol were delivered by a Dragon spacecraft inside a glass-wall cartridge together with a miniature toaster.
This Bridgman furnace is similar to a conveyor-belt oven found in factories or fast-food restaurants. The cartridges pass through the heating element at an agonisingly slow pace: they take upwards of two days to travel 1 mm, but the experiment will run on its own for several weeks.
An astronaut set up the Transparent Alloy furnace inside ESA's self-contained glovebox for safety and inserted the first cartridge.
A hard disk is recording the microscopic view from two video cameras, while operators at the Spanish control centre in Madrid can highlight different features using an array of coloured lights.
These experiments into fundamental phenomena are allowing scientists to understand and then control processes. Who knows what amazing metals might be created? The next metal age might just be something we can't imagine right now.
Bochum, Germany (SPX) Jan 03, 2018
Material scientists at Ruhr-Universitat Bochum are able to determine if a new material remains stable under temperature load within the space of a few days. They have developed a novel process for analysing, for example, the temperature and oxidation resistance of complex alloys that are made up of a number of different elements. Previously, such analyses used to take months. The team headed by ... read more
Research at ESA
Space Technology News - Applications and Research
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.|