Finnish researchers have developed a new hard metal that could replace tungsten in critical industrial, research and military applications.
Tungsten carbide, currently used in most industrial appliances that require extra strength and durability, is a rather scarce material, listed by the European Union (EU) among substances with critically limited availability. The material is frequently used in combination with cobalt, a toxic substance dangerous to human health.
The new material, developed in laboratories of the VVT Technical Research Centre of Finland and a Finnish company Exote, thus offers a greener and safer alternative to tungsten. It offers comparable qualities, including the capability to stop armour-piercing bullets, while using available raw materials.
The material, able to withstand high temperatures as well as extreme mechanical loads, is suitable for manufacturing of crusher blades and shear cutters. It can also be used in military applications for personal and vehicle protection. In bullet-proofing tests, the new material has performed better than currently available alternatives.
The team is now tuning the product through the use of nano-additives, which enables changing its toughness and hardness according to the intended use.