Scientists at Boeing say that they have created the lightest known metal in the world. The metal, which consists of micro-lattice material, is reportedly 99.99% air.
Boeing hopes that it will be able to use the metal to develop innovative new types of airplanes, as reducing weight is critical to achieving flight.
Additionally, airplanes that weigh less require less fuel to fly, so the development of a lighter aircraft could eventually lead to financial savings for airline companies that are always looking for ways to save money.
The savings could even trickle down to consumers in the form of reduced airline fare prices.
Fuel for airplanes is currently the largest operating expense for airline companies.
The development of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in recent years was a major breakthrough for the company because of its usage of lightweight composite carbon fiber material. The airplane has the best fuel efficiency in its class.
Traditionally, airplanes were constructed using aluminum.
The micro-lattice metal somewhat resembles a sponge or mesh-like material. The metal is also flexible and incredibly strong. It is unknown how much it weighs, but since it consists of 99.99% air, it certainly can’t weigh very much.
However, the metal will require further development before it is ready to be used in the construction of any aircraft.
If the newly created metal is eventually used in the construction of aircrafts, then airline companies will be set to reduce their operating expenses by a considerable margin.
The micro-lattice metal has been described by Boeing as an “open cellular polymer structure”.
If the metal is used in aircrafts, it would primarily be used in structural components of airplanes, such as the airplane’s side-walling or floor panels.
Due to the complicated nature of the material, it would most likely only make sense to use the material in the construction of major commercial jets.
Boeing has not stated when, if ever, the material would be ready for commercial use.