1 - Lighter
2 - Stronger
3 - Cheaper
Today's meeting with ACS-A was brilliant. Many emails bouncing around over past week with issues, solutions, options and discussion, but today we sat in a room with some smart people and a calculator and the result was game changing.
Initially the discussion started confirming some of our assumptions (see previous blog about not understanding the floor system intent or wall skins). This was confirmed (being that the previous calculations were done omitting some key strength characteristics). So this was great news; that our system is better than they first calculated.
Next we spoke about the heat / fire issue where we felt that we had resolved this, as a team today this was confirmed and all that is left is the actual testing. I may as well expose what this solution is; as it is not a top secret product or something we will hide forever... The material we will be using for the outer layer heat absorption is "Vermiculite" which is a mineral that has heat properties of up to around 1,200deg.
Vermiculite has been around for a long time, used both in gardening but also fire solutions. We have had initial talks with a supplier who can customise a product for this system being lighter and only 10mm thick panels. So this is a great outcome. There is also a fire retardant layer on the outside of this which deals more with the flame - Vermiculite deals with the heat.
Another issue or flaw in the current design was brought up today which lead to a better solution / break through (wont go into detail). Suffice to say that as a result of changing a few combinations of materials and layers, we have now got the design to be lighter (taking away Vermiculite in areas where fire / heat not an issue), adding an aluminium honeycomb to the ceiling and walls (creating more stiffness while decreasing the
weight), changing the way we do the core structural material in the center (stronger, lighter but more expensive), but as a result of this decreasing the outer skin materials which has lowered the overall price. So this is a big deal - lighter, stronger and cheaper.
The issue with using carbon fibre is it is 10x the cost of fibreglass or traditional materials, so it is important to us to bring such a great product to the market without being too expensive to afford - so today's outcome is a step in this direction of making this product affordable.
Issue # 2 - Bonding.
The use of adhesives I was under the impression would be easy. There are so many advances in adhesives that this was never on the list of things that would have to be fixed. The issue that was brought up today was no so much the adhesive, but the surface for bonding. Any oil, residue or similar could severely damage a bond.
There are a few solutions discussed being:
1 - sanding a bond line prior to adhesive
2 - abrasive blasting (similar to above)
3 - Peel Ply
4 - Mechanical fasteners (screws / bolts etc) - This is something I wanted to stay away from, but seems this method may be good.
A combination of 3 & 4 is likely where we will head with a solution. Etching out sections of the wall panels so that the ceiling can slot in plus bonding was the discussion on a good solution for the ceiling. Still more to resolve here - this will be next on the agenda after the panel system is finalised and test pieces can be ordered.
At this stage we plan to order the test pieces immediately after the week ending 7th October.