What is aerogel?
Aerogel is created by combining a polymer with a solvent to form a gel, and then removing the liquid from the gel and replacing it with gas (usually air). The high air content (99.98% air by volume) makes it one of the world's lightest solid material. Aerogels can be made from a variety of chemical compounds, and are a diverse class of materials with unique properties. They are known as excellent insulators, and usually have low density and low thermal conductivity.
Aerogels can be used in various applications, and although they have been around since the 1930s, their development is still progressing (for example, NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland has invented several groundbreaking methods of creating new types of aerogels).
Common applications include enhancing the thermal performance of energy-saving materials and sustainable products for buildings, acting as a high performance additive to coatings, prevention of corrosion under insulation, uses in imaging devices, optics, and light guides, thermal breaks and condensation control, architectural lighting panels, outdoor and sports gear and clothing, and more.
Graphene aerogel, also known as aerographene, is considered to be the least dense solid in existence (graphene aerogels are light enough to be balanced on small plants!).
Graphene aerogels are quite elastic and can easily retain their original form after some compression. In addition, the low density of graphene aerogels makes them very absorbent (to the point where it can even absorb more than 850 times its own weight). This means that it could be useful for environmental clean-ups like oil spills, and the aerogels only need to be picked up later after absorbing the spilled material. Graphene aerogel may also have some applications in both the storage and the transfer of energy by enabling the creation of lighter, higher-energy-density batteries - and vigorous research is being done on the matter.
Graphene aerogel are somewhat similar to graphene foams. Graphene foams are usually made by CVD growth on a metal structure (which is later removed), and are so more conductive than graphene aerogels.
Graphene aerogels are already being sold commercially, for about about $300 per gram.
The latest Graphene Aerogel news:
University of Bath researchers have developed a graphene-based light material that can reduce aircraft engine noise and improve passenger comfort.
The graphene oxide-polyvinyl alcohol aerogel weighs just 2.1kg per cubic meter, making it the lightest sound insulation material ever manufactured. It could be used as insulation within aircraft engines to reduce noise by up to 16 decibels - reducing the 105-decibel roar of a jet engine taking off to a sound closer to that of a hair-dryer.
A collaborative research project between RISE SICOMP, GKN Aerospace Sweden, Nexam Chemical and Woxna Graphite, aimed to explore graphene-modified composites for long time- and high temperature applications, which can be used in aircraft components and other applications where the demands for durability are exceptionally high. The project took place August 20, 2019 – February 19, 2021.
Graphene was added as surface protection in the project, as a matrix modifier. Composites, with and without graphene, were manufactured and tested in the exact same way for comparison and reference.
Composed of aerogel graphene and two bio-inspired polymers, the novel material is reportedly capable of removing dyes, metals and organic solvents from drinking water with 100% efficiency. Unlike similar nanosheets, the scientists’ design is reusable, doesn’t leave residue and can be 3D printed into larger sizes. The team now plans to commercialize its design for industrial-scale deployment.
ZEN Graphene Solutions announces collaboration agreement on carbon aerogels with German Aerospace Center
Zen Graphene Solutions recently announced that it has signed a new research collaboration agreement with the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (“DLR”, the German Aerospace Center) to investigate the use of Albany Pure graphene-based nanomaterials in the fabrication of novel carbon aerogel composites.
The goal of this collaborative research project titled, “Development of Innovative Composites based on Carbon Aerogels”, is to develop electrode materials for new generation batteries and will build on the collaboration between ZEN, DLR and Dr. Lukas Bichler at the University of British Columbia‐Okanagan Campus (UBC-O) that was previously reported.
The European GRAMOFON Project, coordinated by AIMPLAS Plastics Technology Center, has developed an innovative CO2 capture process based on novel nanomaterials and microwave energy. The project results therefore contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 13 on Climate Action of the UN Global Compact through decarbonization with the major advantage of doing so at a lower cost than the technologies currently in use.
During the 42-month project, innovative materials and efficient systems for capturing CO2 from post-combustion industrial emissions were developed. In particular, materials such as modified-graphene aerogels and metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) have shown very good CO2 capture capacities and greater selectivity than traditional adsorbents.