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Infrastructure-in-a-can (and other novel uses of foam)

Infrastructure-in-a-can (and other novel uses of foam)

Posting in Energy

Foam roads and energy from bubbles. A look back at author Sidney Perkowitz's vision of the future.

Foamy roads?

According to scientist Sidney Perkowitz, it's not so far-fetched.

The author of the 2001 book Universal Foam: Exploring the Science of Nature's Most Mysterious Substance, Perkowitz outlines how foam could be our answer for electricity generation and even the next interstate highway system.

Futurist and former Dweller Geoff Manaugh returns the 11-year-old book to our attention over at BLDGBLOG, summarizing Perkowitz's take on "decontamination foam" developed by Sandia National Laboratories back in 1999:

This "safe ribbon" is, of course, a road—a road made entirely of foam, laid down over active land mines so as to protect vehicles against detonation from below. A whole new class of transportation infrastructure arises: unexplodable foam roads fanning out across military landscapes; instant roads-in-a-can, like shaving cream, that you spray over dangerous terrain; even foam bridges spanning rivers and caves.

Meanwhile, similar "soil-equivalent" foams could help seal landfill odor and preserve space, and the "bubble fusion" hypothesis stipulates that nuclear fusion can be had using liquids. It's heady stuff.

An effervescent future awaits, no doubt, but it seems rather unsustainable. More chemicals in the ground? It shouldn't be long before someone bursts that bubble.

Foamed Infrastructure [BLDGBLOG]

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Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure