Application of the month

We have seen epoxies lowering the CO2 emissions from aircrafts and protecting water pipes from rust. We have seen them evolve and also save lives. We know they make our cities more beautiful and more sustainable. And with some help from other materials, they boost their superpowers to accomplish a lot more.

Scientists at Rice University, in Huston, have combined epoxy resins with foam and carbon nanotube scaffold in the search of a better conductive material. What they didn’t expect is that, on top of this, the new compound would also be much lighter and tougher. How is that possible?

According to chemist James Tour, when the epoxy infiltrates the foam and then hardens, it is captured in micron-sized domains of the graphene foam. Then it stiffens the entire structure. Without adding significant weight, the mixture has seven times more compressive strength than other compounds and it’s nearly three times as conductive – about 41 Siemens per centimetre.

The scientists got inspired by projects that injected epoxy into 3D scaffolds. If the new compound scales up for industrial use, the material could replace the carbon-composite resins used to pre-impregnate and reinforce the fabrics in a wide range of materials, from aerospace structures to tennis rackets.

Read the full story in The Engineering.
Photos by: Rouzbeh Shahsavari Group/Rice University.