The experimental tests proved that basalt fiber reinforced ceramic composite retained its properties up to 1200 °C.
The engineers called the new material BasKer (basalt + ceramics). It is a composite based on basalt fiber and a ceramic matrix.
Its remarkable characteristics go beyond light weight, high insulation properties, fireproofing and thermal stability. BasKer developers outline some other unmatched advantages that this novel material offers.
- safety and eco-friendliness because it is recyclable;
- its cost of production is comparable with polymer composites and, as expected, will get cheaper in the future;
- high performance because of reducing vehicle weight that leads to decreasing fuel consumption and, consequently, the impact on the environment.
Basalt ceramic composites find wide application in manufacturing exhaust pipes and heat shields, fireproof panels and doors used in the transportation, construction, aerospace, military and sports industries.
BasKer is produced from pre-ceramic prepreg that is a pre-impregnated polymer semi-finished product, which is converted to fiber reinforced ceramics by pyrolyzing at 700 ° C.
The developers also conducted several experimental tests showing that this new material retains its shape and thermal structural abilities up to 600-800 ° C, and the fire resistance and thermal insulation properties up to 1200 ° C.
BasKer was created as part of the EEE-CFCC project (Evoluzione Economicamente ed Ecologicamente sostenibile di Compositi Fibrorinforzati a matrice Ceramica forma Complessa), coordinated by ENEA (Italian Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Development) with the participation of other research centers.
In addition to the material, they developed pilot plants for prepregs and its components, in particular, a pyrolysis line and a hot-moulding unit which enables much faster and more economical large-scale production in comparison to autoclave production.
So, naturally, the developers produced various demonstration samples from the novel material on the pilot equipment, including: heat shields, exhaust pipes and fireproof insulation panels. Also, the foundations were laid for the LCA analysis (life-cycle assessment) and solutions at the end of their working life.
Claudio Mingazzini, a spokesperson from ENEA says:
“Although the production process based on pyrolysis is energy-intensive in nature, the properties of these composites allow them to reduce energy consumption and increase safety in a wide range of applications in the transportation and construction, which gives hope to be introduced into industrial production in a short time.”
ENEA had worked with basalt materials before, for instance in developing solutions for cost-effective and efficient reinforcement of buildings walls in order to improve their seismic resistance.