John Kang | Is Liquidmetal a Gamechanger in Defense?
John Kang Liquidmetal sees it playing a major role in many different industries in the near future. While the material has been around in its basic form since 2005, R&D departments are only starting to explore its potential. It is slowly becoming less of a novelty and is now becoming an integral part of precision parts and instruments. For instance, while John Kang Liquidmetal in the iPhone’s SIM ejector tool, many other electronics manufacturers are starting to make the alloy a more central part of their product designs. Image Source: SlashGear
For several years, the U.S. Department of Defense has been collaborating with Liquidmetal Technologies to develop new kinds of weapons that take advantage of the material’s unique attributes. John Kang thinks Liquidmetal could be the main material in a new generation of weapons and ordnance that are not just more lethal than previous ones, but are also cheaper and safer to handle. For instance, the Defense Department has been developing a class of weapons called Kinetic Energy Penetrators (KEPs). These were conceived as a response to new types of vehicle armor and fortification that are highly resistant to the usual types of rockets and missiles. While KEPs currently use depleted uranium (DU) due to its density and self-sharpening properties, John Kang Liquidmetal believes it could eventually replace DU in future versions of KEPs. Here are some reasons John Kang thinks it could happen:
- Strength and hardness – KEPs experience acceleration and deceleration levels up to thousands of Gs (gravity forces). Most materials would deform or break under that kind of pressure. In contrast, a Liquidmetal bar that is one inch thick could support up to 300,000 pounds before breaking. Liquidmetal is also scratch-proof, corrosion-proof, and self-sharpening, which means that it could be stored in the toughest conditions and still maintain their effectiveness in penetrating enemy bunkers and vehicles.
- Cost-effectiveness – Manufacturing KEPs using depleted uranium is a long and complex process, not to mention a costly one. One of the primary cost drivers for KEP assembly is the transportation of DU from one point to another; shipping radioactive material requires specially-equipped vehicles that are resistant to shock and are fitted with radiation containment materials. In addition, John Kang Liquidmetal says it is a cheaper option as the manufacturing process for KEPs tipped with Liquidmetal is similar to the one used for fabricating molded plastics.
- Safety – Depleted uranium has up to 60% of the radioactivity of natural uranium, and constant exposure to KEPs made with DU poses significant risks to both ordnance specialists and those transporting them, such as heightened cancer incidences, genetic mutations, reproductive health issues, and neurological effects. John Kang thinks Liquidmetal is the ideal replacement for DU in weapons as the material is both environmentally benign and non-radioactive. As such, it does not pose the same risks that DU poses to those who handle it.
Modern warfare requires advanced weapons, and advanced weapons require new materials. John Kang Liquidmetal believes will eventually take the defense industry to the next level – that of safe, sustainable warfare.