Aug 27

Self-Sealing Resin Could Provide an Answer to Threats from Space Debris

A threat that all spacefarers fear is that from speeding orbital particles breaching the hulls of their spaceships. However, scientists might be on their way to solving this problem through the use of a new self-healing material. Developed by a group from the University of Michigan in collaboration with NASA, the novel material is comprised of thiol-ene-trialkylborane resin interposed between 2 polymer panels. Provided that the resin is held in the airtight area between the panels and out of contact with the air, it remains in its fluid form. However, the moment either of the panels are punctured by a speeding projectile such as space debris, the resin oozes from the opening and polymerizes in under a second upon contact with the air. Consequently, a strong airtight plug is formed by the resin at the point of the breach. It is expected that this new innovation will be eventually applied to ‘at-risk’ areas on the hulls of space vehicles and astronaut living spaces. In addition, since both the resin and the panels happen to be both clear, it is hoped that they can also be adapted to replace the windows in spacecraft portholes to create much safer spacecraft overall. The scientific study was recently published in the journal ACS Macro Letters.