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Updated: 28/11/03


 

INDUSTRY NEWS


The World’s Lightest Ceramic Foam Material

Developed at Cellaris - Technion Incubator Company
Ssource : American Society For Technion, Israel Institute Of Technology
June 26, 2001


A team of scientists from Technion has succeeded in manufacturing the world’s lightest  ceramic foam material, implementing a unique mechanism its members have developed. The new material is a ceramic foam that contains 94% to 96% air by volume, but can resist temperatures above 1700° C.

The material is made of aluminum oxide, a common high-temperature ceramic, but gets its extraordinary insulating powers from the many tiny air bubbles within the material. The foam is generated from special crystals that contain the metal components and all the foaming ingredients. Upon heating, the crystals form a solution. Within this solution a reaction takes place, forming polymer chains. After the chains grow sufficiently, the solution suddenly separates into a pure solvent and the polymer. At this point, the solvent begins to boil, forming trillions of tiny bubbles that blow the polymer into a foam, stabilized by the polymer chains. Subsequent heating to high temperatures leaves behind the ceramic, metal oxide foam.

The material will be used for a wide variety of advanced applications such as acoustic insulation, thermal insulation, adsorption of environmental pollutants or as a platform for bio-technology applications. The estimated market for this product is worth billions of dollars.

Professor Gideon Grader of Technion Faculty of Chemical Engineering, headed the research team that developed the new material, explains that the innovative foam’s structure is composed of many cells thus insuring its safety. Alternative insulation material currently in use which are based on ceramic fibers could cause severe environmental and health damages, such as those caused by asbestos fibers.

Professor Grader, an expert on ceramic materials, interned at Bell Labs and holds a first degree from U.C. Berkeley and a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology.

Cellaris has recently raised 700 thousand dollars from private investors and venture capital funds in the hi-tech sector

Professor Grader established Cellaris two years ago under the auspices of the Technion Incubator for Technological Entrepreneurship. Cellaris is developing the foam for a variety of applications on a pre-industrial scale, currently hiring 9 employees and preparing for the establishment of its industrial manufacturing plant.

 

RELATED LINKS

Contact:

Gideon Grader
Department of Chemical Engineering
Technion-Israel Institute of Technology
Haifa 32000, Israel
972)-4-829-2008
(972)-4-8230476
Email: grader@tx.technion.ac.il

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