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Metal foams technology from Hungary to be tested in space

A Miskolc-based research firm, north-east Hungary, will participate in the first testing of a its technology for producing metal foams in space.

The tests will be conducted at the European Space Agency's (ESA) international space station in 2008-2009, head of the firm Pál Bárczy told reporters on Friday. The Admatis Ltd. firm specializing in space-related research has developed a foam-generator that allows producing metal foams in any form in a cost-efficient technology, Bárczy said. The current technologies were either difficult and costly or allowed only limited use of the end-product. Director of the Hungarian Space Office (MŰI) Előd Both said the Miskolc technology was one of eleven winners of a bid called by the ESA last year.

ESA launched a research program three years ago on metal foams to create extremely lightweight materials with specific stiffness, effective absorption of energy and electromagnetic waves and low thermal conductivity. Admatis Ltd. was founded only in Y2K but their benchmark project started two decades earlier. Under the auspices of the Soviet-led Intercosmos program – the joint initiative of the former socialist countries for space and microgravity research – a team of brave Hungarian scientists were awarded a development project to design and manufacture a multifunctional crystallizator for orbital applications.

The performance of team exceeded all expectations: the first version of the Universal Multizone Crystallizator (UMC) started operations in less than ten years. It had been designed for space travel. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and all socialist development projects the research team has built up a longstanding, mutually beneficial cooperation with NASA. A copy of the most advanced version of the UMC spent years at Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama, a research facility of NASA, for extensive testing. The original developers formed the Admatis company to arrange the necessary funds for maintenance and future developments of the UMC solution and also to reap some benefits of this long-standing research project. (MTI,