Aerogel- demonstration of insulation

Aerogel- demonstration of insulation

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Credit: PETER MENZEL/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: A scientist applies a blowtorch to a sample of aerogel. Aerogel is a new material which has very high thermal insulation properties and extremely low mass. It is made by adding alcohol to a conventional silica gel to remove water. The gel is then placed in a pressure chamber, and the alcohol removed under superfluid conditions. This prevents the gel from collapsing. The resulting block of silica fibres contains about 90% air, so is very lightweight. Aerogel is being studied as an insulating material and as a holding medium for nuclear fusion fuel. Photographed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, USA.

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Keywords: aerogel, engineering, frozen smoke, insulator, new materials technology, silica

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