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Concept: Foam


We report the new development of fire extinguishing agents employing the latest technology of fighting and preventing fires. The in situ technology of fighting fires and explosions involves using large-scale ultrafast-gelated foams, which possess new properties and unique characteristics, in particular, exceptional thermal stability, mechanical durability and full biocompatibility. We provide a detailed description of the physico-chemical processes of silica foam formation at the molecular level and functional comparison with current fire extinguishing and fighting agents. The new method allows to produce controllable gelation silica hybrid foams in the range from 2 to 30 seconds up to 100 Pa·s viscosity. Chemical structure and hierarchical morphology obtained by SEM and TEM images develop thermal insulation capabilities of the foams, reaching a specific heat value of more than 2.5 kJ/(kg·°С). The produced foam consists of organized silica nanoparticles as determined by XPS and X-Ray diffraction analysis with a narrow particle size distribution of about 10-20 nm. As a result of fire extinguishing tests, it is shown that the extinguishing efficiency exhibited by silica-based sol-gel foams is almost 50 times higher than that for ordinary water and 15 times better than that for state-of-the-art firefighting agent AFFF(aqueous film forming foam). The biodegradation index determined by the time of the induction period was only 3 days, while even for conventional foaming agents this index is several times higher.

Concepts: X-ray, Nanoparticle, Colloid, Heat, Particle size distribution, Silicon dioxide, Foam, Aerogel


The formation of thick stable brown foams within the activated sludge process has become a familiar operational problem. Despite much research having already been carried out into establishing the causes of activated sludge foaming there is still no general consensus on the mechanisms involved. Historically investigation into activated sludge foaming has involved either measuring, under aeration conditions, the propensity of mixed liquor samples to foam, or evaluating different physico-chemical properties of the sludge which have previously been linked to activated sludge foaming. Both approaches do not present a means to quantify the risk posed to the treatment plants once foams have started to develop on the surface of aeration basins and final clarifiers. The Foaming Scum Index (FSI) is designed to offer a means to quantify risk on the basis of different foam characteristics which can easily be measured. For example, foam stability, foam coverage, foam suspended solids content and biological composition. The FSI was developed by measuring foam samples taken from several different domestic and municipal wastewater treatment sites located in Greater Dublin area (South-East Ireland). Path analysis was used to predict co-dependencies among the different sets of variables following a number of separate hypotheses. The standardized beta coefficients (β) produced from the multivariate correlation analysis (providing a measure of the contribution of each variable in the structural equation model) was used to finalise the weighting of each parameter in the index accordingly. According to this principal, foam coverage exerted the greatest influence on the overall FSI (β = 0.33), whilst the filamentous bacterial composition in terms of the filament index of foam, provided the least (β = 0.03). From this work it is proposed that the index can be readily applied as a standard tool in the coordination of research into the phenomenon of activated sludge foaming.

Concepts: Measurement, Sewage treatment, Sewage, Wastewater, Activated sludge, Sewerage, Environmental engineering, Foam


Freestanding and highly compressible nitrogen-doped carbon foam (NCF) with excellent hydrophilicity and good electrochemical properties is prepared. Based on NCF electrodes, a high-performance all solid-state symmetric supercapacitor device is fabricated with native, full compressibility, and excellent mechanical stability, addressing two major problems in the current technology.

Concepts: Electrochemistry, Battery, Foam


Modeling the physics of foams and foamlike materials, such as soapy froths, fire retardants, and lightweight crash-absorbent structures, presents challenges, because of the vastly different time and space scales involved. By separating and coupling these disparate scales, we have designed a multiscale framework to model dry foam dynamics. This leads to a predictive and flexible computational methodology linking, with a few simplifying assumptions, foam drainage, rupture, and topological rearrangement, to coupled interface-fluid motion under surface tension, gravity, and incompressible fluid dynamics. Our computed results match theoretical analyses and experimentally observed physical effects, including thin-film drainage and interference, and are used to study bubble rupture cascades and macroscopic rearrangement. The developed multiscale model allows quantitative computation of complex foam evolution phenomena.

Concepts: Scientific method, Fundamental physics concepts, Physics, Fluid dynamics, Fluid mechanics, Hypothesis, Foam, Froth


Infants spend most of their time sleeping and are likely to be exposed to elevated concentrations of chemicals released from their crib mattresses. Small-scale chamber experiments were conducted to determine the area-specific emission rates (SERs) of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in a collection of twenty new and used crib mattresses. All mattress samples were found to emit VOCs and the mean values of total VOC (TVOC) SERs were 56 μg/m2h at 23°C and 139 μg/m2h at 36°C. TVOC SERs were greater for new mattresses compared to used ones and were influenced by the type of foam material and the presence of mattress cover layer. A variety of VOCs were identified, with polyurethane foam releasing a greater diversity of VOCs compared to polyester foam. Large-scale chamber experiments were conducted with an infant thermal manikin. TVOC concentrations sampled in the breathing zone and interior pore air of the crib mattress foam were found to be greater than the bulk room air by factors in the range of 1.8 to 2.4 and 7.5 to 21, respectively. The results suggest that crib mattresses are an important source of VOCs and infant exposure to VOCs are possibly elevated in their sleep microenvironments. This study should help understand infant exposures to VOCs as well as other contaminants emitted from crib mattresses, such as plasticizers and flame retardants, which may disproportionately affect infants and lead to lifelong illnesses and disabilities.

Concepts: Infant, Chemistry, Volatile organic compound, Organic compounds, Volatile, Bed, Foam, Mattress


Web-reinforced composite sandwich panels exhibit good mechanical properties in one-way bending, but few studies have investigated their flexural behavior and deformation calculation methods under conditions of four simply supported edges. This paper studies the bending performance of and deformation calculation methods for two-way web-reinforced composite sandwich panels with different web spacing and heights. Polyurethane foam, two-way orthogonal glass-fiber woven cloth and unsaturated resin were used as raw materials in this study. Vacuum infusion molding was used to prepare an ordinary composite sandwich panel and 5 web-reinforced composite sandwich panels with different spacing and web heights. The panels were subjected to two-way panel bending tests with simple support for all four edges. The mechanical properties of these sandwich panels during the elastic stage were determined by applying uniformly distributed loads. The non-linear mechanical characteristics and failure modes were obtained under centrally concentrated loading. Finally, simulations of the sandwich panels, which used the mechanical model established herein, were used to deduce the formulae for the deflection deformation for this type of sandwich panel. The experimental results show that webs can significantly improve the limit bearing capacity and flexural rigidity of sandwich panels, with smaller web spacing producing a stronger effect. When the web spacing is 75 mm, the limit bearing capacity is 4.63 times that of an ordinary sandwich panel. The deduced deflection calculation formulae provide values that agree well with the measurements (maximum error <15%). The results that are obtained herein can provide a foundation for the structural design of this type of panel.

Concepts: World Wide Web, Web 2.0, Foam, Sandwich theory, Sandwich structured composite


Iron aluminides are intermetallics with interesting applications in porous form thanks to their mechanical and corrosion resistance properties. However, making porous forms of these materials is not easy due to their high melting points. We formed FeAl foams by elemental iron and aluminum powders sintering with tartaric acid additive. Tartaric acid worked as an in situ gas-releasing agent during the self-propagating high-temperature synthesis of FeAl intermetallic alloy, which was confirmed by X-ray diffraction measurements. The porosity of the formed foams was up to 36 ± 4%. In the core of the sample, the average equivalent circle diameter was found to be 47 ± 20 µm, while on the surface, it was 35 ± 16 µm; thus, the spread of the pore size was smaller than reported previously. To investigate functional applications of the formed FeAl foam, the pressure drop of air during penetration of the foam was examined. It was found that increased porosity of the material increased the flow of the air through the metallic foam.

Concepts: Oxygen, Iron, Metallurgy, Alloy, Corrosion, Foam, Foams, Metal foam


Smart foams sensitive to external stimulation have gained increasing attention recently. However, reversibly switchable CO2foams have been less documented. In this work, a novel kind of CO2-switchable foams was developed using a long-chain cationic surfactant, N-erucamidopropyl-N,N-dimethylammonium bicarbonate (UC22AMPM⋅H+), as both the foaming agent and stabilizer. The foams can be rapidly transformed between stable and unstable states at ambient temperature with CO2/NH3·H2O as the triggers. The foaming properties and switchable performance were examined by a combination of confocal microscopy, cryogenic transmission electron microscopy, and rheological techniques. The results demonstrated that the enhanced foam stability in the presence of CO2is attributed to the high bulk phase viscosity and gas/liquid surface viscosity, resulting from the entanglement of wormlike micelles (WLMs) formed from UC22AMPM⋅H+. When NH3·H2O is added, the network structure of WLMs is disrupted, and the bulk phase viscosity and surface viscosity subsequently drop, consequently leading to an ultimate foam destabilization. Such a CO2-sensitive viscoelastic surfactant could not only be used to fabricate smart CO2foams but can also enable CO2to play dual roles as both the dispersed phase, as most gases do, and an “activator” to protonate long-chain tertiary surfactants into cationic analogs to form viscoelastic WLMs to stabilize foams.

Concepts: Stabilizer, Viscosity, Emulsion, Surfactant, Micelle, Foam, Sodium laureth sulfate, Foaming agent


Foaming properties of particle dispersions can be modified by addition of amphiphiles. The molar ratio between particles and amphiphiles will influence the wetting properties of the particles as well as the bulk concentration of the amphiphiles. This will have an effect on air/water interfacial composition as well as on the thin film and foam stability of the mixed system.

Concepts: Chemical properties, Particle, Foam


Supercapacitors are called to play a prominent role in the newly emerging markets of electric vehicles, flexible displays and sensors, and wearable electronics. In order to compete with current battery technology, supercapacitors have to be designed with highly conductive current collectors exhibiting high surface area per unit volume and uniformly coated with pseudocapacitive materials, which is crucial to boost the energy density while maintaining a high power density. Here, we present a versatile technique to prepare thickness-controlled thin-film micro graphene foams (μGFs) with pores in the lower micrometer range grown by chemical vapor deposition which can be used as highly conductive current collectors in flexible supercapacitors. To fabricate the μGF, we use porous metallic catalytic substrates consisting of nickel/copper alloy synthesized on nickel foil by electrodeposition in an electrolytic solution. Changing the duration of the electrodeposition allows the control of the thickness of the metal foam, and thus of the μGF, ranging from a few micrometers to the millimeter scale. The resulting μGF with a thickness and pores in the micrometer regime exhibits high structural quality which leads to a very low intrinsic resistance of the devices. Transferred onto flexible substrates, we demonstrate a uniform coating of the μGFs with manganese oxide, a pseudocapacitively active material. Considering the porous structure and the thickness of the μGFs, square wave potential pulses are used to ensure uniform coverage by the oxide material boosting the volumetric and areal capacitance to 14 F cm<sup>-3</sup> and 0.16 F cm<sup>-2</sup>. The μGF with a thickness and pores in the micrometer regime in combination with a coating technique tuned to the porosity of the μGF is of great relevance for the development of supercapacitors based on state-of-the-art graphene foams.

Concepts: Electricity, Density, Volume, Orders of magnitude, Electrolyte, Chemical vapor deposition, Area, Foam