It hardly matters if this stuff has a better strength-to-weight ratio than titanium if it also costs 1000 times as much to make an airplane wing out of it.
"Metallic wood" is a very misleading term, too. The material in question is nickel with a cellularized structure resembling wood, rather than a cellulose variant that has undergone some process that bestowed metal-like properties upon it. A more accurate term would have been "xyloid metal" or "ligneous metal".
Nobody wants to build an airliner wing that is 70% of the weight of a regular wing, but also explodes into a million tiny pieces when it suffers a bird strike.
I run a small forge. Every alloy I've used will corrode way faster if it's not been finished smooth. I can only imagine how fast a metal (even nickel) foam oxidizes.
But, too bad that nickel is toxic as hell, and many people are allergic to it. So, I guess it's the biggest trade-off when compared to titanium.
Ultra-light backpackers will still need to use titanium for their spoons, but if an airplane can cut down on its weight, that's worth a lot.
If you want a metal utensil, aluminum is even lighter than titanium. Titanium is tougher but it's not like your utensil is a load-bearing beam.
Plastic utensils are even lighter than aluminum and don't transmit heat as fast or get as cold in the cold. Wood utensils are good too.
Aluminum disintegrates in acidic food. It has been associated with Alzheimer's disease. It can crack.
Wood can not be cleaned, it splits, and it even has slivers.
Plastic melts or burns. Plastic cracks. Plastic gets discolored, often by foods that contain both oil and tomatoes. BPA has been a problem, and the substitutes in BPA-free plastic are sometimes suspected of being worse.
Wood can definitely be cleaned. Wood spoons are a common item in any kitchen where meals are commonly prepared. Bamboo is even tougher and easier to clean.
It's not hard to keep plastic utensils from melting or cracking. I still use the same plastic camp utensils I got decades ago.
I was working in outdoor retail when titanium utensils started being sold. Guess what? People ate just fine before them. When people started buying the titanium utensils, I would sometimes ask why (not challenging, just curious). To a person, they all said: because they're so light. (They were heavier than the plastic spoons.)
I agree that they're a luxury, the same way a $200 Dolce & Gabbana t-shirt is a luxury: high price for no additional benefit. Triumph of marketing.
Unfortunately that doesn't stop companies from making loads of cheap jewelry and eyeglasses out of nickel alloys. And there are lots of applications where a nickel allergy doesn't matter. Golf clubs have rubber grips. Airplanes have walls, carpets and seats between people and the structure.
A quick google search puts the price of nickel at $5.39/lb and titanium at $25.68/lb, so it would be a huge reduction in material costs if they can keep the manufacturing costs relatively similar.
Nickel isn't listed in Wikipedia's list of metal toxicities.
Let me see if I can clarify the original point. Nickel is both toxic when ingested and often a contact allergen. Thus the two points are independently true of one another and in no way contradictory.
I hope this has been helpful.
Whether the material's good properties pan-out is another question, of course.
Again, the document posted by a sibling (https://rais.ornl.gov/tox/profiles/nickel_and_nickel_compoun...) likely contains all the detail you could wish for.
Also, nickels are about 75% copper.
>"The reason we call it metallic wood is not just its density, which is about that of wood, but its cellular nature," Pikul says. "Cellular materials are porous; if you look at wood grain, that's what you're seeing? -- parts that are thick and dense and made to hold the structure, and parts that are porous and made to support biological functions, like transport to and from cells."
Twice as light.
When you hear "heavy" as used to describe something, you automatically assume it to mean negative. "Half is heavy" has a more negative connotative meaning than "Twice as light", even though they have the same denotative meaning. In other words, they effectively mean the same thing, but represent that thing differently.
I also suspect it has to do with the positive/negative framing. Ideally, you want to leave a positive impression on your audience. If you're talking about scientific discoveries – especially something as cool as a material that's comparable to titanium in terms of strength, yet is much lighter – I reckon you want your audience to feel excited and inspired. In this case, using positive framing is reasonable and conducive to the goal.
I'm not sure how appropriate it is for a popular-science publication to refer to framing when talking about new discoveries, and am not offering support for or against such usage in this context. The decision to put the phrase in such a way, however, may well be an informed choice that makes sense from the perspective of the goal of such a publication.
I bet if they did the same thing with iron, a drop of peracetic acid on it would make it go "FOOF!".
Actually that might still work on the nickel.
( lignum is wood/timber in Latin )
Edit ok sorry that I confused stiffness with strength. Sorry my lay opinion was factually incorrect
If it turns out to be brittle it can’t be used in the wings. That is my lay opinion on making an aircraft.
Titanium actually isn't that stiff, either. It's quite a bit more flexible than steel. New martensitic steel alloys can be close to a match for the best titanium alloys for strength/weight ratio as well.
Since this material is less dense, it should provide better stiffness for weight, since thicker members can be constructed with the same weight. Much like how aluminum bicycles have much larger tubes than steel ones, to make up for the greater elastic flexibility of aluminum.