New Aerogel Made from Silica and Cellulose

30 January 2012

Gel is a typical structure that holds the liquid within its cavities and researchers led by Jie Cai now claims that they have made a novel nanocomposite that consists of almost air. The research findings have been published in a recent issue of the journal Angewandte Chemie.

An aerogel holds air and specifically if we see an example of the silicon oxide, the aerogel of which consists more than 99% weight air and that’s why these aerogel are light weight comparable to the weight of air and are translucent similar to solidified smoke. One of the characteristics of these aerogels is that these are non-inflammable and are good insulators.

Researchers have developed a nano- composite of cellulose and silicon. The process involves in two steps and in first step, researchers produced cellulose gel from alkaline urea solution by dissolving and regenerating it in the form of nanofibrillar, which acts as scaffold for silica gel and in second step they produced silica gel by standard sol-gel process and the composite gel was obtained by drying the liquid.

The newly developed aerogel was tested for various physico-chemical properties and it demonstrated many properties superior to the conventional products. This new product can find applications in various areas including insulation in space shuttles.

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