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Tech Minute: Aerogel


Aerogel is a high-tech insulation material originally developed for spacecrafts. It's sometimes called frozen smoke because of its smoke-like appearance.

One of the lightest solid materials ever produced, aerogel is 1,000 times less dense than glass, because 99.8% of its total volume is air. Manufactured using nanotechnology, aerogel is an ultra-light, extremely low-density solid foam made mostly from inexpensive silica.

Aerogel can be formed into countless varieties of shapes. It has an insulating value that is 39 times greater than fiberglass, which gives it great potential as a light-weight, high-performance insulation for windows, walls, roofs, boilers and steam pipes.

Until recently, aerogel was expensive to manufacture, so it is mostly used in high-tech applications like the space program. But new advances could make it more cost-effective to produce. As costs continue to come down, expect to see aerogel used in more places in the future.


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