ISRO has developed a process for making carbon foams that has application in several industries—as thermal insulators, sandwich structures, electrodes in fuel cells, carbon dioxide scrubbing and EMI shielding.
Carbon foams are next generation advanced structural materials, made up of cellular carbon. These foams possess low density, good specific strength and tuneable thermal properties making them suitable for applications in high temperature thermal protection, ablative materials, acoustic materials, EMI shielding and as electrode materials in batteries and bipolar plates in polymer membrane fuel cells.
Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST), Department of Space has developed a novel, simple and cost-effective method for the preparation of carbon foams from sucrose and carbon powder. The conventional preparation process is based on fossil fuel derived precursors. The novel method uses naturally available renewable precursors for the preparation of carbon foams.
The process is environment-friendly and leaves no toxic by-products, has good mechanical strength and low thermal conductivity.
Conventional system uses aqueous based process for the sucrose and carbon powder where 50% water in the resin medium requires more energy for evaporation. Also, agglomeration and sedimentation of particles in low viscous medium result in non uniform foam structure. Molten based technique of the proposed method overcomes these disadvantages of the aqueous system.