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METFOAM project investigated porous metals, which resemble a metallic sponge or a metallic bone structure. Metallic foam has air bubbles, making it an ultralight material, yet, with mechanical strength comparable to concrete due to hard cell walls.

METFOAM researchers discovered that porous metallic plates with steel surface sheets are an order of magnitude stronger than conventional thin steel plates (with equal weight). Metallic foam components can change the way we build bridges by eliminating welded stiffeners, which produce stress concentrations and contribute to fatigue cracks over time. Metallic foam sandwich panels could also enable new wind turbine towers by removing the need for the welded stiffener plates.

On the research front, our goal was to understand the material features such that we could develop simulation models. Computational tools for modeling and failure prediction of prototype components will benefit from our fracture material model and characterization of the material variability. We employed simulations and analytical prediction to search for the most promising applications. We identified high-bending rigidity and stability of the panels as one promising area. To verify computational and analytical predictions, we loaded metallic foam sandwich panels in compression to investigate their actual load carrying capacity. We also tested steel plates (with the same weight) to enable the comparison with conventional thin walled steel members. The tests have demonstrated that panels were an order of magnitude stronger than steel plates. These findings are relevant to the engineering community and could enable a new generation of more durable infrastructure. Such outcomes contribute to the effectiveness of our transportation infrastructure and help our interconnected society and economies within the European Union.

METFOAM project also investigated multiphysical properties of metallic foams. We tested the mechanical performance of steel and aluminum foams under elevated temperatures to differentiate metallic foam from cheaper polymeric alternatives. We found that steel foam retains significant strength up to 500C.

While studying the multiphysical features, METFOAM researchers discovered a metallic foam ceramic composite, which combines the hardness of ceramics with the deformability of metals. The developed metallic foam ceramic composite could not be cut with a power drill, waterjet or angle grinder (with disc cutter). In the same time, the composite had compressive ductility and ability to absorb shocks from impacts, unlike hard but brittle ceramics alone. The project created a non-cuttable material. The developed metallic foam ceramic composite was impenetrable to an angle grinder, power drill, and waterjet.

The novel metallic foam ceramic composite could enable a new generation of safe vaults, security boxes, security doors, or hard barriers for the protection of places of cultural and material value. The results could contribute to secure society goals by increasing physical resilience of the critical infrastructure against forcible entry and violent attacks.

The project also helped the research staff involved in the project professionally. Marie Curie Career Reintegration Grant supports academics who reintegrate in Europe after several years at overseas institutions. The principal investigator of the grant returned to Europe after seven years of carrying out research at American universities and industry. The support of Marie Curie, people-oriented action of the European Commission allowed the principal investigators to secure a permanent position at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom and to establish a base for research on cellular and architected materials. Further details on the project and development of the researchers involved in the project can be found at