Good Thinking

Could planes be insulated with super-burned bread?

Could planes be insulated with...
That burnt toast might not be such a loss after all
That burnt toast might not be such a loss after all
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That burnt toast might not be such a loss after all
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That burnt toast might not be such a loss after all
A close-up view of the carbon foam
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A close-up view of the carbon foam

While most cooks would be dismayed if their bread burned while it was baking, researchers from China's Harbin Institute of Technology have been busy torching their loaves to create a material known as carbon foam. The lightweight material serves as a thermal insulator, electromagnetic shield and electrical conductor, and it costs, well, just about as much as a loaf of bread.

Carbon foam itself is nothing new. Because of its mix of low weight and high performance, it's been of special interest in the aerospace industry as an insulating material but currently, many methods of producing it can be costly.

Making carbon foam from food also isn't new. Previously, the material has been made from such edibles as bananas and watermelons. But in those cases, it was difficult to finely tune the end result to produce the foam with exactly the right characteristics for the job, as the size of the cells inside the material were inconsistent.

The new method begins with a simple loaf of bread. But once the initial loaf is made and dried in an oven for 18 hours at 80 ºC (176 ºF), it is put into a special furnace that uses argon gas to blast it into the carbon foam.

A close-up view of the carbon foam
A close-up view of the carbon foam

The resulting foam was found to have the same characteristics as other carbon foams. It was strong, a good temperature insulator, lightweight and it provided shielding from electromagnetic waves. It was also more flame-resistant than current carbon foams, so it could make a fine insulation for planes, spacecraft or even homes. The process is also, obviously, low cost considering the ingredients used.

What's especially interesting about the bread-based process though, is that based on the amount of water and yeast the researchers introduced into the dough, they were able to change the pores inside the foam, meaning that the process was tunable. In other words, it was possible to create foams with different pore sizes based on different needs.

The results of the process were published today in the American Chemical Society journal, Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Source: Applied Materials & Interfaces

9 comments
ErstO
Wow, theres a use for super burned bread! My girlfriend will be so happy, she normally just throws it away, one loaf after another.
CAVUMark
Great use for all that white bread we are not suppose to eat.
windykites
I don't think of burned toast as being strong. It is brittle and crumbly. Still, a clever idea.
Dugg
So, maybe it really could be Wonder Bread.
unklmurray
I have long liked burnt bread for its' cleansing properties,such as Guiardia,I know that isn't spelt right but you get the idea,When the Rainbow Family,would hold their gatherings ,sometimes the water wasn't all that clean.....and we would feed everyone ,who was sick, burnt toast mixed in with oatmeal cereal It was an activated charcoal ,and cleaned the system..........LOL :-}
Agamemnon
Wonder what would be the formula for an electromagnetic interference gate in this wonder-bread! Agamemnon
Lawnmowerman
Put graphene on each side for good "sandwich" structure.
Nelson
Would the burnt bread attract pests trying to eat it?
liui
burn some linguini pasta and you get carbon fiber?