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Superabsorbent, Sustainable Aerogels

From:http://www.warf.org/ Time:2014.10.30

Aerogels are the world’s lightest solid materials made by removing liquid from gels. Such materials may contain up to 99 percent air and have special properties like high porosity and absorption.

One promising application for aerogels is environmental cleanup. They could be used to purify water contaminated with crude oil, fuel, organic solvents and metals like lead and mercury.

(Picture from: https://www.google.com/)

UW–Madison researchers have developed organic aerogels with excellent absorbent properties. They are made by combining a water soluble polymer and cellulose nanocrystals/nanofibers (CNFs) derived from biomass. The polymer, such as PVA (polyvinyl alcohol), is cross-linked to form a gel and then water is removed by freeze-drying. The surface of the aerogel is coated with an organosilane, making it highly water repellent and superoleophilic (‘oil loving’).


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