WAN Jobs
News Review
WAN Urban Challenge
WAN Awards
Previous Next

Editorial, London, United Kingdom

Thursday 23 Aug 2007

Frozen smoke to change the world

Editorial by WAN Editorial in London, United Kingdom
Your comments on this project

No. of Comments: 0

Add comments | More comments

Be the first to comment

A miracle new material could become a fundamental building component in the 21st century 

Aerogel, nicknamed “frozen smoke” is the world's lightest known solid, it weighs only three times that of air. When handled, Aerogel feels like a very light, hard foam. Being chemically similar to glass, it also happens to shatter like glass, yet is incredibly strong structurally, and can support thousands of times its own weight. It is made by extracting water from a silica gel, then replacing it with gas such as carbon dioxide. It can withstand a direct blast of 1kg of dynamite and protect against heat from a blowtorch at more than 1,300C. The result is a substance that is capable of insulating against extreme temperatures and of absorbing pollutants such as crude oil. NASA are already using it to insulate space suits, new versions have been designed to mop up lead and mercury from water and to absorb oil spills.

It was invented by an American chemist for a bet in 1931, but early versions were so brittle and costly that it was not until a decade ago that Nasa started taking an interest in the substance.

It has, however, failed to convince the fashion world. Hugo Boss created a line of winter jackets out of the material but had to withdraw them after complaints that they were too hot.

A wide range of possible applications could see Aerogel becoming a wonder product of our time.

For more information visit www.aerogel.com

WAN Editorial

More projects by this architect

Tech Spot #112 Climate Tile

Genoa bridge collapse

Bridge collapse

Festival collapse

Lost 20th century buildings illustrations

More Projects

Latest Jobs in London

Revit Architectural Technologists

Technical Architects

Senior Architect

Reinventing Cities

Click here to view the NEWS IN PICTURES tablet site