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Author Topic: What was the tough material shown on Tomorrows World in the late 80s?  (Read 6114 times)

Offline freepizza

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Hi all,

I have search far and wide for this answer and could not find it.

During the late 80's and early 90's Carbon 60 or Buckminsterfullerene & Graphene(I think) were a hot topic. In BBC's tomorrows world they demonstrated a safe made out of a material, which I think was one of those two but cannot be sure. The texture of the safe was a slight lumpy surface and black in colour.

 - This safe was Dropped from 20-30 stories high,
 - Drilled until the bits wore out the bit down to the chuck almost.
 - A heavy duty concrete disk cutter was worn right down to the last remaining blade part.
 - And not a scratch on the safe.
 - Then put into a furnace of 11000 degrees C for 6 hours.

After all this the safe was opened and the paper documents inside were in one piece.

I want to find out more about this can anyone help? Or is there a video clip of this out there somewhere.

Many Thanks.

« Last Edit: 12/08/2011 21:56:56 by chris »


 

Offline Don_1

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I have a vague recollection of this, but that's about all.

There are clips from 'Tomorrow's World' on the BBC web site, but none from this episode.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/tomorrowsworld/
 

Offline freepizza

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Thanks Don_1,

Checked out this space. Not much there. :(
 Guess I'll keep searching. Looked at archived "new Scientist" magazines on google books and not much there.

 

Offline Geezer

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They didn't screen it on April 1 by any chance?

(I can still remember the Swiss spaghetti harvest.)
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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It was probably some sort of carbon fiber reinforced ceramic.
 

Offline freepizza

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Definetely not a fools joke.

I would think that carbon fibre ceramic would be damaged if dropped several stories or have some scratches with a heavy duty angle grinder.

If only BBC realease all of tomorrows world footage :(
« Last Edit: 25/08/2011 19:21:40 by freepizza »
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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Even the crummiest fiber reinforced material, fiberglass, is stronger and lighter than the best aluminium alloys, and would stand a fighting chance if dropped from height.

A reinforced ceramic material can be shockingly good, the fiber stops the brittle material shattering under impact and lends strength, the ceramic gives rigidity and high temperature.

The Skylon aircraft is planning to use a black ceramic composite for its reentry skin; they changed materials at one point, but it's possible that the previous material they planned to use was the one that was on Tomorrow's world.
« Last Edit: 25/08/2011 15:05:22 by wolfekeeper »
 

Offline Geezer

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Even the crummiest fiber reinforced material, fiberglass, is stronger and lighter than the best aluminium alloys,


Not to mention combustible.
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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Fiberglass is, but composite ceramics aren't flammable.
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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You might be able to find the patent, I bet there's one out there somewhere; I think tomorrows world wouldn't show stuff unless it was patented.
 

Offline freepizza

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I think you'll find that they have shown unpatented items:-

- The painted egg that does not affect the inside egg white or yolk when exposed to direct fire (not Patented)
- I recall the Bomb-Proof glass developed by US military ( I beleive no patented)

Anyhow searched far and wide - even patents, no luck :( - Anyone work at the BBC???
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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Anyway the description of the material matches well a reinforced ceramic or similar, possibly silicon carbide with carbon fibres or something like that.

I also presume that the 11000C is wrong, you wouldn't normally be able to get a furnace anything like that hot. NOTHING survives 11000 C, not even a furnace! Stochiometric combustion is usually at about 3500C or so. You'd have to pump it up even hotter with microwaves or something weird.
 

Offline freepizza

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wolfekeeper, thanks for the reply again. But a quick search indicates that there was a material that was exposed to 10,000 degrees c albeit a laser beam and survived.

newbielink:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAe7V7tcBys [nonactive]  -- The dreadded egg again.

fusion reactors 100 million dgrees +
newbielink:http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,599211,00.html [nonactive]

Anyway i am absolutly sure of the temperature. I remember it like yesterday. :)
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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Something is wrong; sure, materials can survive much higher than 11000K for a short time or on one side only from a laser or a plasma, or at very low pressures but not being immersed long enough to reach equilibrium at atmospheric pressure, not multiple hours from all sides with no way to lose heat in a kiln. There aren't even kilns that get that hot. It's obviously a mistake on the program.
 

Offline damocles

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A solid material at a temperature of 11000 deg C? This is not possible on a sustained basis.

At ordinary pressures no solid material can exist in equilibrium at a temperature above about 4-5000 deg C. This temperature is sufficient to break all chemical bonds so that compounds will decompose to their component elements and crystal lattices will disrupt. At higher pressures it is possible for solids to be present in equilibrium at higher temperatures, but higher pressures would imply either a cooler, stronger container, and therefore a thermal gradient across the walls, or a gravitational type confinement, as in a planetary core. Metallic tungsten is the highest melting simple substance known as far as i am aware (normal MP 3422 deg C).
There is a good article on refractory materials (high melting) in Wikipedia:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refractory where a binary compound and a ternary compound are cited with normal melting points of 3890 deg C and 4215 deg C respectively are cited. Many ceramic-type substances do not melt, but decompose, always at temperatures below 4000 deg C.

Much higher temperatures can be obtained, and even sustained in plasmas, but these plasmas cannot use a solid container for their primary confinement.
 

Offline benhunt

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They didn't screen it on April 1 by any chance?

(I can still remember the Swiss spaghetti harvest.)
Do you remember the new animal they found, reported by That's Life? The "Lirpa Loof" :-)
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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It might be "system2" which is silicon carbide fibre reinforced glass, which is from Harwell UK Atomic Energy Agency.

The silicon carbide would explain how it blunted the cutting devices. It's apparently rated for 1400+K, which means it would handle a 1100C furnace.

They were going to use it for Skylon, but apparently the material is no longer made.

It's a slight longshot, but there aren't that many materials that would be likely to have that kind of behaviour, particularly the high temperature, and it makes sense that it would be on Tomorrows World, and that the Reaction Engines guys would know about it and want to use it.
 

Offline damocles

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It might be "system2" which is silicon carbide fibre reinforced glass, which is from Harwell UK Atomic Energy Agency.

The silicon carbide would explain how it blunted the cutting devices. It's apparently rated for 1400+K, which means it would handle a 1100C furnace.

They were going to use it for Skylon, but apparently the material is no longer made.

It's a slight longshot, but there aren't that many materials that would be likely to have that kind of behaviour, particularly the high temperature, and it makes sense that it would be on Tomorrows World, and that the Reaction Engines guys would know about it and want to use it.

This seems an eminently sensible and plausible suggestion. It does, however, rest on an important additional assumption:

   That 11000°C is a misprint for 1100°C

 

Offline wolfekeeper

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I think ANY material that could handle 11000C would be incredibly widely known and revered and given the other properties would be used all over the place. The temperature tolerance even lines up, 1400K is about 1120C.
 

Offline damocles

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 :) Agreed, wolfekeeper!
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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Whether that was the same material on Tomorrows World is, I think likely, but not completely proven. For example, there could easily be another ceramic out there with similar properties.

However, what is very, very clear to me, is that I want all my ceramic cookware made of system2!!!
 

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