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Uniform open metal foam gives three times the cooling power

16 September 2011

Versarien has introduced a novel open-pore metal foam, developed by the University of Liverpool, which combines extremely high thermal efficiency with mechanical strength and reduced weight. Initially focusing on porous copper products, Versarien intends to extend the technology to other materials, including aluminium. Formed with a lost carbonate sintering process (LCS), metal and carbonate powders are mixed together, then pressed and sintered before dissoluting to remove the carbonate mixer.

The process can produce a metal foam with porosity up to 85% and homogeneous and controllable pore sizes between 50 microns and 5mm. The open-pore structure allows coolant fluid to pass through the material, and the greatly increased surface area produces heat transfer rates which are around 300% greater than is possible with current technology. The manufacturing method distributes the pores evenly through the material, ensuring the mechanical and thermal properties are constant throughout each component, and can be repeated for batches of parts - which has been a problem with metal foams up until now.

TheVersarientechnology allows for the moulding of components to a net shape during the pressing process, enabling customers to take delivery of parts tailored to their exact needs. The small pore sizes which can be achieved with LCS make it easy to produce far smaller open pore components than is possible with other technology, while larger parts and sheet material can also be manufactured using modular building techniques.

The simplicity and repeatability of the process enables products to be produced at competitive cost. Neill Ricketts, CEO of Versarien says, “LCS technology is a major step forward for the production of metal foams. Its exceptional properties can be applied to a wide range of industries, from semiconductor cooling to fuel cells, acoustic installations, and aerospace components where weight, rigidity and thermal conductivity are important. This exciting new manufacturing method will bring the advantages of metal foams to a much wider audience at an affordable cost.”

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