Cork is an amazing, versatile material that has many uses beyond plugging wine bottles. Its cellular structure makes it buoyant because there are millions of air pockets contained in each one-inch cube. It’s compressible, elastic, incredibly lightweight, impermeable to gas and liquid, and has a low conductivity to heat and sound. These properties make it durable, yet it can also be soft, smooth, and flexible. There are a variety of products wherein cork is the surprising essential component.
IMAGE: EVE CORK
1. Heat Shields In Spacecraft
A rocket or other spacecraft at launch is subjected to temperatures over one thousand degrees, and the same is true when it re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere. In a Mars Exploration Rover the aeroshell protects the lander and the rover inside of it from setting ablaze while entering the Martian atmosphere. The ablator of the aeroshell is partially made of cork wood and small glass spheres which are superior thermal insulators.
NASA explains the formula is made to chemically react with the atmosphere upon entry, removing heat as it travels. The entry vehicle is slowed substantially after the kinetic energy has been lowered, producing about 10 “Earth gees” of the lander and rover acceleration.
2. Artificial Leather
Back on earth, the bark layer of the cork oak tree can be harvested every 9-12 years and fashioned into what looks like super-soft, premium leather. It’s more durable and has better resistance to the elements than real leather, plus it’s cruelty-free and vegan. A beautiful example is the line of luxurious bags, wallets, and accessories made by Eve Cork and sold online.
Cork takes to coloring well, and this eco-friendly company uses all-vegetable dyes, as well as organic cotton in their liners. It isn’t necessary to fell the trees, so cork is a renewable resource. Using cork oaks as a material resource is a special case where a healthy industry actually protects the trees since their conservation is necessary for harvest.
Sustainability is the cornerstone of Eve Cork, and buying their fashionable bags helps save cork oak trees and the diverse ecosystems where they grow.
3. Special Effects In Film
Film production suppliers sell cork to use when a movie needs a convincing explosion. Its lightness means many pieces dramatically fly everywhere under pressure. Cork was used to explosive effect in Total Recall, Gangster Squad, and Mission: Impossible, plus many others.
Regranulated cork was made to look like debris falling from buildings in Ghostbusters and to replicate the look of volcanic rocks in Dante’s Peak. Often in scenes where a bullet pierces something, it’s cork particles that are projected outward upon impact.
4. Alternatives Uses For Wine Corks
Cork can be recycled, and wine stoppers are easy to repurpose into arts and crafts projects. When you’re finished with your cabernet, check out these 37 ideas, including coasters, wine charms, bath mats, table surfaces, succulent planters, and chip clips!
Cork is an amazing material with a diversity of properties and uses. The oaks are beautiful trees that deserve ongoing protection. Support a healthy cork industry by purchasing, recycling, and repurposing cork in your life.
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