What is AeroGel?An aerogel is a manufactured porous solid consisting almost entirely of gas (air) with a very fine latticework of solid material in a spherical shape. This solid material makes up anywhere from five (5%) to one percent (1%) of the volume of the aerogel. Despite the name aerogels do not contain a gel; though they begin life as a material matrix with liquid (gel) supporting the lattice.
Imagine BubblesImagine a soap bubble like the ones you played with as a child. Imagine that the bubble has a hard shell rather than the soapy one that only lasts a few minutes at most. If you could save the bubble by giving it a hard shell, you would have a structure that was mostly air, but is very strong in every direction. Additionally, because the bubble is mostly air (or empty space) it takes a while for heat to travel from one side of that bubble to the opposite side.
Now imagine that the bubble is much smaller, by thousands of times, and that there are millions of them packed closely together. Not only would the resulting structure be very strong, but because it is mostly air, it would also be very good at keeping heat on one side and cool on the other. This is essentially what an aerogel is.
Properties of AeroGel
Aerogels have many properties not the least of which are the ability to limit thermal transfer.
Silicon Aerogels are:
- Thermal insulators
- Have sound absorption properties
- Desiccant (moisture absorption) properties
- Are Flameproof
- Are Water permeable (allows breath-ability)
Carbon Aerogel have all of the above properties plus:
- Are electrically conductive
- Can store electrical charge (as a capacitor medium)
- Absorb Infrared & visible light
Alumina Aerosols have all of the Silicon aerogel properties plus:
- Can act as a catalyst
SEAGel have all of the Silicon aerogel properties plus:
- Are biodegradable (edible)