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Metal Foam Turns Armor-Piercing Bullets to Dust

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(Paul Ramos/Flickr)


This is the most promising tech you’ve never heard of: A lightweight metal foam that can destroy armor-piercing bullets on impact. Researchers at North Carolina State University adapted metal foam to form shields to block various forms of radiation. Now, that same team is working to create high-strength armor.

“We could stop the bullet at a total thickness of less than an inch, while the indentation on the back was less than 8 mm,” Afsaneh Rabiei, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering leading the team’s research, told New Atlas. “To put that in context, the NIJ standard allows up to 44 mm (1.73 in) indentation in the back of an armor.”

Afsaneh Rabiei examines a sample of metal foam. A new study by Rabiei finds that novel light-weight composite metal foams are significantly more effective at insulating against high heat than the conventional base metals and alloys that they're made of, such as steel. The finding means the CMF is especially promising for use in storing and transporting nuclear material, hazardous materials, explosives and other heat-sensitive materials, as well as for space exploration. (North Carolina State University)
Afsaneh Rabiei examines a sample of metal foam. (North Carolina State University)


The public might not be familiar with foam metals, but they have a history stretching back more than 100 years. Created by bubbling gas through molten metal, simple foam metals are formed out of the froth left over from this process. The froth cools into a lightweight matrix that is lighter than other metals, but still as strong. It also has a multitude of potential uses. Rabiei hopes her work will expand the applications of the substance to other areas of tech development, including protection against heat in space exploration and radiation in the transportation of nuclear waste.

Check out incredible footage of a bullet being destroyed in the video below, and learn more about the evolving tech here.


RealClearLife Staff