Next Generation Buoyancy Material
Navy SBIR FY2018.1

Sol No.: Navy SBIR FY2018.1
Topic No.: N181-058
Topic Title: Next Generation Buoyancy Material
Proposal No.: N181-058-1107
Firm: Microsphere Material Solutions, LLC
7226 Old Gate Rd
Rockville, Maryland 20852
Contact: John Howard
Phone: (301) 602-0456
Web Site:
Abstract: This Phase I SBIR research project will analytically and computationally model the relevant mechanical characteristics of amorphous glass foams for next generation buoyancy materials below 0.05 g/cc relative density with uniaxial compressive strength at or exceeding 2 MPa. During the base period, candidate materials for buoyancy foams will be determined using theoretical frameworks detailed by Ashby and Gibson. Hollow spheres from the set of adequate materials will be modeled using thin wall pressure vessel theory. Amorphous glass foam simulation will be performed using the finite element method. Finally, material production scalability and cost will be discussed. All data will be compiled into a final report describing the concept for producing the buoyancy material with the accompanying analyses to prove sufficient performance. During the option period, a hollow sphere deposition concept for additive manufacturing will be mathematically analyzed and designed. The necessary hardware and software components will be selected and the entire apparatus drafted into engineering drawings. At the end of the option period, Phase II plans for constructing the apparatus will be detailed.
Benefits: Microsphere Material Solutions (MMS), intends to commercialize the proposed innovation in a variety of industries. The proposed innovation allows for the development and commercialization of both the foam material as described in the SBIR and the precursor feedstock microspheres. As such, MMS will seek to commercialize the innovation as a supplier to a variety of industries. Other uses, aside from buoyancy as described in the SBIR, take advantage of the high energy absorbing capabilities of the proposed foam. These applications include motorcycle helmets, body armor, and automobile occupant protection. The foam developed under this SBIR would serve as a ?oplug-and-play?? replacement for polystyrene foam currently used in motorcycle and bicycle helmets. Due to its tunable crush rate and ability to absorb significantly more energy than polystyrene, the proposed foam would increase the safety of the wearer without impacting comfort. The same applies to protecting the occupants during automotive crashes utilizing the light weight, energy absorbing characteristics of the proposed foam. Additionally, body armor manufacturers may benefit from the proposed innovation by placing it in a layered structure with high tensile strength materials. In commercializing the feedstock microspheres, MMS would target syntactic foam manufacturers and automotive/aerospace plastic compounders as these segments already use similar products and can benefit from the specifications of the proposed foam. Syntactic foam manufacturers would be eager to utilize the microspheres to increase the strength and decrease the density of their products. Additionally, performance automotive and aerospace manufacturers would be interested in reducing the weight of their plastic parts. Therefore, MMS would aim to commercialize the microspheres to automotive and aerospace plastic compounders. These segments would be most receptive as they place high value weight reduction, and thereby fuel efficiency.