These are materials with ceramic properties (e.g. high refractory) without the aid of consolidation technologies at high temperature. The geopolymerization is eco-friendly: it takes place in water. The process is versatile and suitable for complex shaping methods, similar to those of the polymer industry. Also direct and indirect foaming techniques allow to realize hierarchical porous architectures. The geopolymer matrix is nanostructured and compatible with fillers of different nature, that functionalize the composite material and make it applicable in various fields.
Geopolymers are non-combustible, they don’t evolve gases or fumes, they are not toxic and they don’t "explode." ISTEC therefore produces geopolymers for structural and thermo-mechanical applications: refractory coatings, heat exchangers, composites for thermal and acoustic insulation, resistance to fire (MI2014U000387 patent) and thermal barriers. Within the project POR-FESR "EEE-CFCC" thermo-structural molds for complex shapes and porous insulating are going to be realized. Furthermore, geopolymers are also proposed for new fields such as catalysis, filtration, gas sorbents, wicking
Fiber-reinforced thermal barriers
The application concerns aeronautics and in particular thermal barriers of fiber-reinforced material. The inorganic fiber-reinforced materials, therefore heat-resistant, are currently produced with time-consuming technologies. The use of chemical bonded ceramics (such as geopolymers) greatly reduces the time and temperatures of production. ISTEC has designed ad hoc formulations for completely inorganic resins which are suited to technologies, such as vacuum bagging, commonly used for fiber-reinforced polymers. It is possible then the production of complex shape prototypes with a ceramic-based matrices, but using typical production techniques of conventional composites (i.e. autoclave), thus resulting in simplification of the production process and consequent reduction of costs.
Air Force Service SpA
ISTEC activities took place under an industrial research agreement thanks to which Air Force Service was able to activate a new production line and draw validation protocols to enter the market. The current TRL is 8.