A cutting-edge material, inspired by nature, that can regulate its own temperature and could equally be used to treat burns and help space capsules withstand atmospheric forces is under development at the University of Nottingham. The research paper, ‘Temperature – dependent polymer absorber as a switchable state NIR reactor’, is published in the journal Scientific Reports today (Friday 26 October).
The research used a network of multiple micro-channels with active flowing fluids (fluidics) as a method and proof of concept to develop a thermally-functional material made of a synthetic polymer. The material is enhanced with precise control measures that can switch conductive states to manage its own temperature in relationship to its environment.
Such material could prove invaluable in space flight where high solar loads can cause thermal stresses on the structural integrity of space capsules.
By regulation of the structural material temperature of the vehicle, this will not only advance structural properties but could also generate useful power. This thermal energy could be removed from the re-circulated fluid system to be stored in a reservoir tank on board the capsule. Once captured, the energy could be converted into electrical energy or to heat water for use by the crew.
The experimental side of this research is laboratory-based and has been developed in collaboration with UK Government research institute: Scientific Research Facilities Council (SRFC).