New aerogel materials are going to have a revolutionary impact.
ScienceDaily — A major improvement in the world's lightest solid material and best solid insulating material, described in Philadelphia August 19, may put more of this space-age wonder into insulated clothing, refrigerators with thinner walls that hold more food, building insulation and other products.
The report, on development of a new flexible "aerogel" ― stuff so light it has been called "solid smoke" ― was part of the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.
Mary Ann B. Meador, Ph.D., explained that traditional aerogels, developed decades ago and made from silica, found in beach sand, are brittle, and break and crumble easily. Scientists have improved the strength of aerogels over the years, and Meador described one of these muscled-up materials developed with colleagues at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.
"The new aerogels are up to 500 times stronger than their silica counterparts," Meador said. "A thick piece actually can support the weight of a car. And they can be produced in a thin form, a film so flexible that a wide variety of commercial and industrial uses are possible."