The future of body armor might be a bit… foamy. Composite metal foams (CMFs) are able to do more than just take a hit; they can even turn the offending bullet into fine metallic powder on impact, according to all the news sites and the North Carolina State University article Metal Foam Obliterates Bullets – and That’s Just the Beginning. However, according to the paper, which was published in ScienceDirect, the CMFs acted as a ” bullet kinetic energy absorber interlayer,” and makes no mention of this bullet-destroying property in the abstract.
CMFs are lighter than armor plating, making them a potentially superior alternative for military vehicles and people. Check out CMF in action (or lack of thereof) against a 7.62 x 63 millimeter M2 armor piercing projectile:
Someone clearly doesn’t like math.
The armor is just an inch thick, with a ceramic strike face, Kevlar backing and CMF middle layer; the CMFs absorb some 60 to 70 percent of the bullet’s kinetic energy, dispersing it.
“We could stop the bullet at a total thickness of less than an inch, while the indentation on the back was less than 8 millimeters. To put that in context, the NIJ standard allows up to 44 millimeters indentation in the back of an armor,” said North Carolina State University professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering Afsaneh Rabiei.
Last year, Rabei also showed that CMFs are effective at shielding X-rays, gamma rays and neutron radiation – meaning that CMFs could also be used in space travel and for nuclear waste transportation. The foam is also more heat resistant than its components.
“Our findings suggest that CMF can offer extremely good thermal insulation, superior thermal stability and excellent flame-retardant performances as compared to commercially available materials such as stainless steel,” Rabiei said.
Sources: NCSU, Tech Times, Phys, Discovery News, Slate, Christian Science Monitor
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