Investigation of Isabel Duarte, from the Department of Mechanical Engineering
The future wrapped in metal foam
A investigadora Isabel Duarte e uma amostra de espuma metálica
It is a perfect material for automobiles. It is resistant for its weight; it is a good absorber of impact energy, and, therefore, good for the safety of occupants in the event of an accident; it is lightweight, which enhances low fuel consumption; last but not least, it is porous, thereby reducing noise and vibration. The material in question goes by the name of metal foam and promises to transform the automotive industry and others. Construction, architecture, real estate and biomedicine are also eyeing this new material that has, in Isabel Duarte, from the University of Aveiro (UA), one of the few European scientists who knows the secrets of a foam which is already being incorporated in some components of top of the range vehicles in Germany.

The newly designed aluminum tubes filled with aluminum foam, using a process developed by the researcher, is another step toward a lighter and stronger future.

Imagine a sponge and its pores, but made of metal: that’s what metal foams resemble. "They are highly porous solid materials, similar to other solid foams, as is the case of ceramics, but made from a metal or a metal alloy" states Isabel Duarte, who also claims: “we can create steel, aluminum, magnesium, zinc and even gold foams depending on the intended application."

Its low weight, high strength and resilience according to its weight, the excellent ability of energy absorption and good impact cushioning capacity of noise and vibration make metal foams increasingly interesting for the automobile industry, which craves for lighter, safer, more comfortable less polluting and less consuming vehicles.

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