Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Foaming copper structures

The production of metallic foams is a highly versatile industry, offering a broad range of new technology solutions for a number of needs. From electronic equipment to trains, batteries and even solar energy, metal foams have given the potential to develop innovative solutions for standard industrial concerns.
Foaming copper structures
Copper foams for example, are characterised by a highly porous cell structure. As such, their properties prove to be very attractive for such industrial applications as heat exchangers and energy absorbents. They are ductile, conductive, have a high weld ability and offer enormous potential in polymer technologies.

Aside from this, their manufacture is beset by a number of challenges, a number of which limit their exploitation. Their production costs are high, much about their properties remain uncharacterised, and their production processes remain, for the most part, developmental and experimental.

As such, the new copper foam production technology presented by a Luxembourg company offers enormous appeal. Whilst most manufacture of metallic foams is in the area of aluminium foams, this development then offers industry an alternative value for exploitation for those that need other metal based foams.

The actual development involves the manufacturing process that produces copper foams of high quality. These are suitable for use in such areas as thermal and electrical conductivity, EMI shielding, heat exchange, batteries and water treatment applications.

This low-cost manufacturing process involves the production of foam through a direct "metallisation" of very low-density polyurethane foam. Existing technology is used so no expensive capital outlay in new machinery is required. This is followed by electroplating that increases metal thickness. In turn, innovative heat treatments remove the polyurethane foam and re-crystallises the metallic coating.

These processes result in copper foams with adjustable porosity for specific uses, a product of high quality and one that is suitable for adhesive bonding. The technology has proven its worth, taking first prize in an Innovation convention held in Luxembourg.

The real innovation lies in its production process with regards to its electroplating anode configuration and its heat treatment process. This is a continuous manufacturing process and the design of the heating oven is such that it eliminates any chance of physical damage to the metallic foam during transportation.

Currently, this patented technology has a prototype and the developers are looking for interests from electronic manufacturers, water treatment plants and heat exchangers in order to integrate the foam into their production design.
Record Number: 81749 / Last updated on: 2005-09-18
Domain: Industrial Technologies