Engineers and materials scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology recently revealed a new aluminum foam for train cabs, a material that’s stronger, lighter, and better in a crash than fiberglass or regular old metal.
Engineers in Chemitz, Germany unveiled a prototype high-speed train cab made with the stuff earlier this year, Wired reported. The composite material is built like a sandwich: Between two pieces of aluminum, each just two millimeters thick, is a 25-millimeter-thick layer of the “foam,” actually a low-density, sponge-like composite of magnesium, silicon, and copper, and aluminum. And like a good sandwich, there’s no glue. The layers are held together by metallic bonding, the electrostatic attraction of negatively charged electrons and positively charged ions.
The result is a material that’s 20 percent lighter than traditional fiberglass, which is commonly used on high-speed train cabs. That’s a big advantage when the goal is to move faster and more efficiently. Even better, it doesn’t come at the cost of a weaker train.
The price of Chinese aluminum billet rose 1.8% on Wednesday, December 10, making it the day’s biggest mover. After two days of falling prices, it closed at CNY 13,600 ($2,198) per metric ton. The cash price of Chinese aluminum declined 0.5% to CNY 13,290 ($2,148) per metric ton. At CNY 14,280 ($2,308) per metric ton, Chinese aluminum bar fell 0.5% on Wednesday. Chinese aluminum scrap held its value on Wednesday at CNY 12,800 ($2,069) per metric ton.
The cash price of primary aluminum saw a 0.8% decline on the LME to $1,945 per metric ton. The aluminum 3-month price weakened by 0.7% on the LME, settling at $1,959 per metric ton. The cash price of primary Indian aluminum rose 0.3% to INR 122.10 ($1.97) per kilogram.