Aerogel: Varieties and Applications

aerogelonahand

Blog Post 5

Evan Super

Aerogel is a relatively new material created by NASA.  Due to the low amount of mass, the material is very fragile and is often referred to as ‘frozen smoke.’  There are different types of aerogel, with graphene aerogel being the lightest material in the world and aerogel based Thermablok being the highest insulating material.  Thermablok is out of prototyping and into the commercial market.  According to its manufacturer, “Thanks to its hydrophobic properties, Thermablok will not age, mold, or mildew. Thermablok uses an amorphorus silica (distantly different from crystaline silica) aerogel insulating material which is environmentally safe and recyclable” (www.thermablok.com).  Aerogel has many possible applications and has already been applied to many products including apparel, face moisturizers and even used as the primary building insulation in a greenhouse.  I can see aerogel becoming an architectural substitute for frosted glass.  While aerogel insulation allows light to pass through, the material is often cloudy and therefore I could not see it replacing traditional windows.  If a new variety of aerogel was produce that was as clear as glass then the possibility for applications would be endless.  Aerogel could replace the glass used to manufacture glass lenses, possibly creating near weightless glasses.  As aerogel becomes more well known and explored, I believe it could lead to some new, exciting frontiers.
“Thermablok® Aerogel Insulation.” Aerogel | Aerogel Insulation | Aerogel Price. Thermablok, Inc., n.d. Web. 22 Dec. 2016.

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