This miraculous supermaterial you are gazing at is Aerogel: also called Frozen Smoke, Solid Smoke, Solid Air, or Blue Smoke. It looks like it would be a moist gelatinous mass, actually it is rigid, dry, and feels like styrofoam to the touch. Aerogel is a synthetic, porous, ultralight material extruded from a gelatin. The gelatin is removed, and replaced by a gas, maintaining the structure within. This results in a solid with extreme low density, and low thermal conductivity, making it an amazing insulator.
Aerogel was first created by Samuel Stephens Kistler in 1931, as a result of a bet with Charles Learned over who could replace the liquid in “jellies” with gas without causing shrinkage. Kistler’s first aerogels were produced from silica, later based on alumina, chromia and tin dioxide. Carbon aerogels were first developed in the late 1980s.
Aerogels are amazing thermal insulators, as they nearly negate the three methods of heat transfer: convection, conduction, and radiation. The lowest-density aerogel is a silica nanofoam at 1 mg/cm3, quite amazing.
Where will a wonder material like this turn up? Well, NASA used aerogel to trap spade dust particles in a special collector aboard the Stardust spacecraft, and for thermal insulation of the Mars Rover and space suits, and Dunlop has recently incorporated aerogel into the mold of its new series of badminton rackets, and has previously used it in squash rackets.
What will the next application be for Aerogel? As prices come down, it could be used in any application requiring insulation, cars, tents, houses, even clothes.
What do you think?
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J. D. Redmond ~ “Dr. Tech” ~ http://www.DrTech.co