Metal alloys have served as the proverbial backbone for car engines and jet turbines alike because of their high strength and ability to resist sudden temperature changes. Now a lighter, cheaper ceramic material that also resists temperature changes may become a viable replacement for expensive metal, according to New Scientist.
Most hot ceramics will fracture and crack if dunked in cold water, because the material contracts too quickly. But the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing has come up with a new family of ceramics that wrap themselves in a buffer layer of insulating air, which protects against the sudden temperature changes.
The new ceramics held their strength even after reaching temperatures of 5,810 degrees F and then being quenched in cold water.
Chinese researchers created the self-insulating ceramic by roughening the surface with plasma etching and acid treatments. The ceramic surface ended up with repeating fin shapes similar to the nanoscale patterns of lotus leaves -- a hydrophobic surface that repels water. The roughened surface also traps pockets of air that become the buffer against sudden temperature change.
[via New Scientist]
Somebody tried ceramic vehicle blocks years ago, but had problems with vibration induced cracking as well as those created by heat. Good luck, that'll be awesome if it works.
Be interesting to see how this plays out. Ceramics were tried in a lot more than blocks not so long ago. They tried to make most engine components out of ceramics from what I read. Motivation was the temperature range.
Unfortunately failure analysis is a problem. You apparently get shards and powder as opposed to deformed metal. Hard to figure out where things went wrong.
I agree that it will be interesting to see where this goes. The article refers to it as "self insulating". One thing metal does in an engine is TRANSMIT heat energy to a coolant to prevent overheating. This could be one of those deals where the end result of the research is not useful in the area they intended, but VERY useful somewhere else.
they should call it lotus ceramic
if they could get this to work in a actual car this could revolutionize our current world and delay the shortage on gas