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Singapore discovers the world's first aerogel made of cotton fiber

2021-09-15 09:18
Singapore discovers the world's first aerogel made of cotton fiber
 
A research team from the School of Engineering at the National University of Singapore (NUS) successfully designed a fast, cheap and green method to convert cotton fabric waste into a highly compressible and ultra-light cotton aerogel.
Aerogel is one of the lightest materials in the world, with high porosity, strong absorption capacity and low thermal conductivity. These unique characteristics make aerogels very suitable for oil spill cleaning, personal care products such as diapers, and heat and sound insulation. Although aerogel was first invented in 1931, this advanced material was not widely adopted by the industry due to its high production cost. Therefore, aerogel scientists around the world are actively looking for ways to improve the production and consumption of different types of aerogels. The NUS team contributed to this global effort, successfully pioneering the development of aerogels using cotton fibers harvested from textile waste.
 
From unwanted clothes to super materials
Under the leadership of Associate Professor Hai Minh Duong and Professor Nhan Phan-Thien of the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the School of Engineering, National University of Singapore, the research team found that this new cotton aerogel can be easily compressed and can recover up to 97% very quickly. It is a few percent of the original size.
 
"This new type of environmentally friendly cotton aerogel is a major improvement from the aerogel that our team previously developed using waste paper. It is highly compressible, so it can greatly reduce storage and transportation costs. In addition, these cotton aerogels can be used in Manufactured in 8 hours-this is 9 times faster than our earlier invention and about 20 times faster than the current commercial manufacturing process. They are also stronger, making them more suitable for mass production. Although we have shown that cotton aerogels are effective New applications for bleeding control and heat insulation, but we will continue to explore the new features of this advanced material," said Associate Professor Duong.