Carbon foam — a stiff, porous structure formed from a web of carbon atoms — is the stuff of manufacturers’ dreams. The breakthrough material is strong but lightweight, non-flammable and able to maintain its performance at high temperatures, and capable of absorbing sound and radiation. This unique combination of traits means carbon foam is brimming with potential applications across military, aerospace, and commercial industries. Scientists at the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Products Lab and Ligsteel LLC are working with Domtar, Inc to develop high-value carbon foam from lignin, the substance in a plant’s cell walls that makes it rigid. Lignin is cheap and readily available — 70 million tons are produced by the pulping and paper industries each year.
Read more at USDA