In military operations worldwide, the threat of explosives disabling convoys of armoured vehicles looms large. Many vehicles already have pretty formidable armour to protect them from blasts but despite this protection, the suspension is often destroyed on impact, rendering the vehcile immobile and a sitting duck. To combat this, a new type of memory metal has been designed that will make military machines tougher than ever before.
How does it work?
When struck by a mine or another explosion, memory metal simply bounces back into shape. The titanium alloy was first created in the USA in the 1960s but this is the first time that it will be used to construct a vehicle’s suspension. A suspension made from memory metal won’t need a spring either so a potential weak spot is removed as well.
The technology is inspired by nature. The ironclad beetle has one of the hardest exoskeletons in nature and very flexible legs, a design modern military vehicles want to replicate. Memory metal is presently used in bendable glasses and underwire bras and is a type of shape-memory alloy. These resiliant yet lightweight materials can be bent in any direction but will still return to their original shape. This is down to their superelasticity where the molecules inside the material pull back together after being moved and separated.
When will it be used?
The technology is being put forward by BAE Systems. It is currently only at the prototype stage and is planned to be ready for use in the next decade. The alloy has been exposed to five explosive tests of increasing intensity and passed with flying colours.
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