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Serendipitous Sugar Discovery Revolutionizes the Foundry Industry

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The foundry industry, which predates Greek and Roman history, has been invaluable in advancing human civilization and has a technological and cultural significance that is often unrecognized.  Without strides in foundry technology, we would have no jet engines, railroad and automobile parts, and water pumps.

Serendipitously, experts in adhesion science at Ohio College of Forestry may have stumbled upon a process that will take the foundry industry to the next level. Traditionally, metal castings have been created by using binders to glue sands with metals to form sophisticated molds.

These molten medals are then combined with the metal castings to create products with complex shapes, like flush valves, gripping pliers, and marine motor mounts. Historically, this method has worked well, but today’s metals often have dangerous levels of toxicity.

Much to the Ohio College researchers’ surprise, simple sugars produce a strong bond and are economical, have zero environmental drawbacks, and are found in abundance. The success of sugar as a binding agent was discovered by accident when a baking oven produced an inaccurate temperature.

However, it’s not only sugar alone that’s effective. Researchers have also pinpointed combinations of soy flour, hydrolyzed starch, and sugar that combine together as a binding agent in sand molds.

The discovery of sugar as a binding agent is particularly significant because 70% of all metal castings are comprised of sand-based moldings. Using sugar instead of toxic materials would completely change the process that creates such products as plumbing materials, automobile parts, railroad parts, and mining tools, therefore creating a more efficient, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly process.

The Ohio College of Forestry researchers have applied for a patent on this new method. Sugar. It’s eco-friendly and renewable. What’s not to love?

[via EurekAlert]

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