Singapore researchers report aerogel breakthrough

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In Singapore, researchers at the National University’s Faculty of Engineering have developed a method for converting cotton fabric waste into aerogels with military applications such as hemorrhage control and heat insulation.

Aerogels are extremely light materials whose high porous nature conveys strong absorption capacity and low thermal conductivity. They have numerous potential applications, but wide-spread use has been limited by high production costs.

“This new eco-friendly cotton aerogel is a major improvement from the aerogel that our team had previously developed using paper waste,” says associate Professor Hai Minh Duong. “It is highly compressible, hence storage and transportation costs could be greatly reduced. Furthermore, these cotton aerogels can be fabricated within eight hours—this is nine times faster than our earlier invention and about 20 times faster than current commercial fabrication processes. They are also stronger, making them more suitable for mass production. While we have demonstrated novel application of the cotton aerogels for effective hemorrhage control and heat insulation, we will continue to explore new functions for this advanced material.”

Their work was published in a recent issue of Colloids and Surfaces A.