Public Release: 

Porous Ceramic Foam -- Taking The Heat Out Of Furnaces

Institute of Materials

A new porous ceramic material, called Hi-Por, could be set to replace the refractory ceramic fibres (RCFs) used as an insulation material in research and industrial furnaces following the European Union's (EU) classification of RCFs as Category II carcinogens. Hi-Por is made using ceramic powders and foaming agents to produce a material that can withstand changes in temperature from ambient to 1600 degrees Celsius in less than fifteen minutes.

Concerns over the health effects on humans caused by RCF dust lead to a number of studies in the USA. The EU directive in November 1997 and growing legislation from EU member states, including Germany and The Netherlands, has lead to a widespread search for a suitable alternative. Hi-Por, developed by TMS, is proving to be one of the leading contenders as it is completely fibre free, does not emit any dust or vapours in use and can be supplied as board, machineable rod or in many other designs.

Hi-Por is made using ceramic powder, organic binders, dispersing agents, foaming agents and water. The size of the cells within the material can be controlled by changing the amounts of gas introduced during the manufacturing process, varying the size of the pores in the foam between 100 micrometers and 1 millimetre depending on the needs of the final product. The high strength-to-weight ratio and thermal shock resistance mean that the material is suitable for a range of furnace applications, and is already being used in the nuclear industry as the material has greater resistance to nuclear radiation than traditional insulation materials.



Notes For Editors

  1. This item is due to appear as "Porous Ceramic Foam Takes The Heat Off RCFs" by Horbury Winder, in the May issue of Materials World, Volume 7, Issue 5, p.273
  2. Materials World is the journal of The Institute of Materials, the professional organisation of materials scientists and engineers working throughout the world in areas involving the use and application of plastics, rubber, steel, metals and ceramics.
  3. Materials World is also available on the web:
  4. The views and opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author and are not necessarily the views of Materials World, IoM Communications or any other organisation with which they are associated.

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