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Aerogel, miracle material for the 21st century?

The future of bullet proof vests and home insulation may be “frozen smoke”, also know as Aerogel. It is 98% air. The Brick Brigade Team, a group of eight 11 year olds, has more.

A MIRACLE material for the 21st century could protect your home against bomb blasts, mop up oil spillages and even help man to fly to Mars.

Aerogel, one of the world’s lightest solids, can withstand a direct blast of 1kg of dynamite and protect against heat from a blowtorch at more than 1,300C.

Scientists are working to discover new applications for the substance, ranging from the next generation of tennis rackets to super-insulated space suits for a manned mission to Mars.

6 Responses to “Aerogel, miracle material for the 21st century?”

  1. john Says:

    this stuff is several years old, and hasn’t really caught on. It is super duper light, but is brittle in its current form. Lots of applications in theory, but so far very few in practice… the breakthrough will come tho, and I’ll but stock in the company that makes it.

  2. Standard Mischief Says:

    Scientists are working to discover new applications for the substance, ranging from the next generation of tennis rackets to super-insulated space suits for a manned mission to Mars.

    The problem isn’t thinking up new and exciting things to do with the stuff, it’s making it cheap enough to make things practical. It’s sorta like this- diamond is the very best heat sink material around. It’s much better at conducting heat that copper, silver or aluminum. Although we can make diamonds in a lab, don’t expect to have a synthetic diamond CPU heat sink in your computer anytime soon.

    So here is where you can score some aerogel for yourself. Check out the prices for small scrap pieces and then don’t trample me on your way out the door to rush and buy enough to make a wrap-around beer cooler.

  3. #9 Says:

    Check out the prices for small scrap pieces and then don’t trample me on your way out the door to rush and buy enough to make a wrap-around beer cooler.

    Genius. Pure genius. I would pay $20 for an aerogel beer cooler. My guess is the current rate would be around $500.

    I think the issue is the brittleness. Solve that and economies of scale will do the rest.

    Except for the Internet, the future is not what I thought it might be. No rocketcars. This is a huge disappointment. But even if you could afford one and they actually worked, they would probably harm the planet.

    At least we have the Inter-tubes.

  4. Jim W Says:

    That would make outstanding body panels for a car.

    I wonder if it is strong enough to make exhaust manifolds out of it.

  5. Jim W Says:

    Ooh nevermind. 1400 F melting point for the lose. That would turn to goo after about a minute cruising on the highway. If these guys can make a 2500 degree aerogel, that would change the world.

  6. gattsuru Says:

    It’s been around for nearly 70 years. The costs aren’t a matter of actual component values (which would only be around 2-4 USD per board foot), but simply that folks are making this stuff in pressure cookers or other DIY-like solutions that require massive amounts of energy and pressure. Even the best options will require a hefty energy cost, but there’s certainly a lot of room for improvement.

    As for melting point, you could switch over to carbon aerogels and get them to last at around 2000 F degrees, but there are additional costs and downsides, and few scientific applications at this point.

    The brittleness seems like it would matter til you think about the number of modern applications that use fiberglass or styrofoam… particularly since there are already companies that stitch the stuff into blankets.

    It’ll come around eventually, but it’s a matter of time. The infrastructure just can’t appear outta nowhere.

Remember, I do this to entertain me, not you.

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