Ming the Mechanic:

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 Aerogel2004-01-21 14:10
picture by Flemming Funch

Ha, this is cool. Aerogel is a weird and wonderful material that looks like solid smoke and is the lightest solid substance we know. Only a little heavier than air. 0.003 grams per cubic centimeter. 1000 times less dense than glass. And it is made of 99.8% air. But yet it is the most efficient insulator we know, 39 times more insulating than the best fiberglass insulation. And it is very strong, able to carry 2,000 times its own weight without damage. And non-toxic. It was invented in the 1930s, but was largely forgotten until somebody at JPL in the 1980s needed a material that could gather comet particles that might be moving three to six miles per second, without destroying either them or the collector. Now it is being used frequently in space probes, and you can get arctic clothing that uses it as insulation. Articles: NY Times, SpaceDaily, and JPL has information and some cool pictures. And here's a company selling it. It is still very expensive, though.

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21 Jan 2004 @ 16:52 by istvan : Thanks for posting this
For a long time i wanted to get some of this stuff, but could not find any. Too bad the company does not post prices. I guess i wiil write for it.  

21 Jan 2004 @ 17:22 by ming : Aerogel
There was a general price on the JPL site in the FAQ, like $1 per cubic centimeter. That makes it $1000 per liter (10x10x10cm). But it sounds like that company has found ways of making it cheaper.  

22 Jan 2004 @ 05:40 by istvan : Just imagine
How many useful applications it suggests.
Once it is cheap enough,there will be a slew of energy efficient uses.  

22 Jan 2004 @ 12:54 by Chris @ : clio
my renault clio is made of steal and it's cheaper...
and it doesn't rust!!!  

22 Jan 2004 @ 12:56 by ming : Renault
Yes, but if it were made of airgel you could lift it up in one hand and take it inside at night.  

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