We are conducting research on steel foam sandwich panels, which have the potential for energy-related structural engineering applications, to investigate how they would perform in demanding offshore or marine environments.

Key Facts

    • The €220,000 two-year project called INSIST (Investigation of the structural integrity and stability of steel foam sandwich panels) is running until January 2017

  • Funded by The European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) Marie Curie Intra European Fellowship.

Impact of our research

With support from the European Commission via the Marie Curie Intra European Fellowship, we are performing the tests required to ensure this novel material, steel foam, can be safely used.

We are investigating the mechanical response of steel foam sandwich panel prototypes under monotonic and cyclic loading. The steel foam comprises steel hollow spheres bonded together with a thermosetting adhesive.

We will perform durability tests under cyclic bending of different specimens, as well as a pilot corrosion test to observe how the material performs after exposure to a corrosive environment. We are also exploring how the steel foam sandwich panels might perform more than one function in energy-related structures, such as weight, vibration damping or providing data for monitoring the health of the structure remotely.

Why the research was commissioned

Steel foam sandwich panels have the potential for energy-related structural engineering applications. This material introduces air pockets in the material structure and introduces density as a variable in design alongside many other possible benefits. Steel foam as the core in a sandwich structural configuration can balance high strength with low weight, buckling mitigation and energy dissipation. Before they are widely deployed, we needed to know more about how they perform in demanding offshore or marine environments.

Why Cranfield?

The project utilises our Structural Integrity Laboratory which has long-standing experience in undertaking challenging industry-related projects. It offers a wide range of equipment for studying the mechanical behaviour of components and material samples, using destructive and non-destructive methods, which will be utilised for the development and testing of steel foam sandwich panels.

Our excellent record in industrial research and vast network of industrial stakeholders in the energy sector can become a springboard for the uptake of steel foam sandwich structures by the industry.

Steel foam