Space

Self-healing material could plug holes in space ships

Self-healing material could pl...
Future space ships could use the new material for protection against orbital debris-caused hull breaches
Future space ships could use the new material for protection against orbital debris-caused hull breaches
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Future space ships could use the new material for protection against orbital debris-caused hull breaches
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Future space ships could use the new material for protection against orbital debris-caused hull breaches

As the movies have shown us, space travel is an intimidating prospect, what with the possibilities of running out of air, the rocket engines conking out, or the shipboard computer deciding to bump off the crew. Another danger is fast-flying orbital debris piercing the hull. Scientists may be on their way to a solution to that one, however, in the form of a new self-healing material.

Developed by a team from the University of Michigan and NASA, the material is made up of thiol-ene-trialkylborane liquid resin, sandwiched between two polymer panels. As long as the resin is contained in the airtight space between the panels, it stays in its liquid form.

When the material is pierced by a projectile, however, the resin leaks out of the hole and polymerizes upon contact with the air in the ship. As a result, it instantly forms a solid airtight plug in the hole.

It is hoped that the technology could ultimately be applied to vulnerable areas inside the hulls of spacecraft or space stations – because the resin and panels are both transparent, it could conceivably also be used on their windows.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal ACS Macro Letters. You can see a sample of the material sealing up a bullet hole, in the video below.

Source: American Chemical Society

‘Terminator’-style material heals itself

3 comments
Tyler Totten
Is it just me or is that a serious rip-off of a Daedalus class ship from SG?
Stephen N Russell
apply to maritime ships??, planes, Be awesome Now we can probe into Space, knowing spacecraft can"heal" from impact. Now to build satellites the same way, mass produce
CharlieSeattle
WooHoo! A self-healing material solves only 1 of the many problem(s) caused by extremely fast moving space projectiles. It will keep air from leaking out!
The self-healing material will NOT repair the deep sleep chambers that have had the electrical wiring and sensors sheared away.
The self-healing material will NOT repair the engines, fuel lines, computer consoles, life support equipment, electrical wiring, fuse boxes, sensors, deep space communications equipment etc,. etc. that has been damaged or sheared away.
But at least you will able to breath a few hours in the dark as the temperature drops to -300 F assuming you did not catch a LARGER meteorite in the head at Mach 212 that penetrates the "Whipple Shield" protection.
For instance, when a 0.5-mm aluminum projectile is fired at a U.S.-made material called Kevlar at a very high speed of 7 km per second, the bullet pierces through seven layers of it. That means that a spacesuit needs seven layers of Kevlar. But current U.S. spacesuits have only one or two layers.
The Whipple shield or Whipple bumper, invented by Fred Whipple,[1] is a type of hypervelocity impact shield used to protect manned and unmanned spacecraft from collisions with micrometeoroids and orbital debris whose velocities generally range between 3 and 18 kilometres per second (1.9 and 11.2 mi/s).
..............NOT the larger meteorites!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whipple_shield
This is akin to only making navy ship hulls, made with the self-healing material, thick enough to withstand hits from small fish and not whales or torpedoes.