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Aerogel - Nothing Much

02/23/2006 12:32 PM

There's an interesting article in Wired about the aerogel that was used on the recently returned Stardust spacecraft for collecting samples of comet dust.
Aerogel is really neat stuff. Developed in 1931 by Steven Kistler, it's only about 3 times heavier than air, so holding it feels like holding a cloud. It's quite strong, but not very flexible. It's also one of the best thermal insulators in existence, which has led to applications in deep sea drilling and even snowboard clothing (you can embed it into fabric).
I'd like to see it's production cost get down to the point where it could be used for e.g, refrigerator insulation - to increase efficiency and/or storage volume for the same cabinet size. Anybody have other ideas?

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#1

Factoids

02/23/2006 5:10 PM

Interesting factoids from the Aerogel FAQ

  • The lightest aerogels have a density only about three times that of air.
  • A block the size of a person weighs less than one pound.
  • That block is able to support the weight of a subcompact car.
  • A window made of Aerogel with a thickness of one inch would have the same insulation value as about 20 sheets of ordinary glass
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Associate

Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 29
#2
In reply to #1

Re:Factoids

02/23/2006 11:43 PM

Is this similar to the material they are using for fire barriers in stunt performances utilizing fire?

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The Feature Creep

Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1055
#3

Air pockets

04/24/2006 10:00 AM

Not to surprised that it is a great insulator. trapped air pockets are the best insulating materials and this stuff is mostly air. If it was more transparent I'd be willing to use it as a window.

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