So just how heat-resistant are the highly-engineered materials developed for use in things like jet engines, nuclear reactors, and gas turbines? Tough enough to change the meaning of the old saying, “a snowball’s chance in hell.” Apparently, its odds are quite good of surviving—when dressed appropriately.
To help celebrate Thomas Edison’s birthday this year, GE came up with a bunch of experiments to realize feats that were supposedly impossible. And given how quickly an ice cube will melt in a glass of cold coke, making a frozen snowball survive a long bath in molten steel certainly seems like an impossible task.
Well, it’s impossible unless you have access to mechanical engineers, chemists, physicists, and materials scientists who have worked on designing ceramics and metals that can survive impossibly high temperatures. The team GE designed a special vessel for the snowball made from a nickel-based super alloy that was lined with a fibrous insulation made from alumina-silicate.
The snowball itself was housed in a 3D-printed plastic sphere that was surrounded with dry ice. While the outside of the vessel hit temperatures of up to 1,100 degrees Celsius, inside it remained a chilly minus 100 degrees. Which, of course, was more than cold enough to keep the snowball frozen solid.