Researchers develop low-density, environmentally friendly foam
TufFoam™ was originally conceived by Sandia materials scientists for NNSA as an encapsulant material to protect sensitive electronic and mechanical structures from harsh weapons environments. It is a water-blown, closed-cell, rigid polyurethane foam that features formulations as low as 2 lbs.-per-cubic foot density. But beyond its use as a structural material, the foam likely has other applications.
"It can be used for thermal and electrical insulation, and as a core material for the automobile and aerospace industries," said Scott Vaupen, a business associate at Sandia, which is actively pursuing licensing and commercialization partners. "TufFoam™ might not only be ideal for surfboards, but also for car bumpers and airplane wings. The potential market could be staggering."
Clark Foam, the leading manufacturer of foam for surfboard construction, unexpectedly closed its doors late last year because of the impact of ever-tightening environmental regulations on the manufacturing of their polyurethane surfboard blanks. The move has led to near-panic, particularly in California, by manufacturers and sellers of surfboards who fear they will not be able to find the high strength-to-weight ratio surfboard blanks necessary to make the boards. Surf historian Matt Warshaw, in an article in the Santa Barbara NewsPress, said "it's the equivalent of removing lumber from the housing industry."
|Sandia National Laboratories photo illustration shows small version of surfboard blank made from TufFoam. (Photo: Randy Montoya )|
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