Making aerogel at home is unsurprisingly difficult

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That was really well done. The chemicals are scary. Nice to see someone using a fume hood.


Where does he get that sexy custom borosilicate!


It’s a fantastic channel that makes even advanced chemistry accessible - although pretty much all of his experiments contain at least one ‘hell no!’ moment as he brings something hideously toxic into the mix - you know, the hexavalent chromium, the ultra concentrated alkalis or the less-charming members of the aromatic groups.


I wonder if aerogel is closed cell foam, such that if you made it in a helium filled environment, it would be (and remain) lighter than air?

That would be pretty cool.


Doesn’t look possible from the wiki.:

Aerogel is a material that is 99.8% air. Aerogels have a porous solid network that contains air pockets, with the air pockets taking up the majority of space within the material.[1

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I wonder if one could place it in a helium environment until it was permeated with helium, seal the outside with a very thin sealant, then pull it out and have a little floaty thing?


I had wondered if it would be suitable for re-entry panels, like the tiles used on the Space Shuttle, but I watched it delaminate as he heated it with a torch, so, nope. :frowning:

What would be really badass, would be a strong enough gel to enclose a lower density gas, done in concentric layers with a soft vacume in the center. Use nothing as a lifting gas!

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Or make it Zeppelin sized. The internal structure of the gel would presumably cause any gas leakage to be very slow. A hole in the outer shell only exposes some gel that the gas has to percolate through as opposed to just gushing out. Make the gel out of something that when exposed to air, briefly becomes liquid, then solidifies. Self patching Zeppelin!


Gel SackRubyArrow-right (1)FabricatorArrow-right (1)Aerogel

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You might be able to fill it with helium, and it might float without sealing until the helium leaked out. His aerogel seemed to weigh a few grammes so I don’t think it would float. However, you can always use a denser gas, Here is a tinfoil boat floating on xenon…

I remember trying to make aerogel by sublimating alcohol ice under vacuum many years ago. It always shrunk. But I don’t remember the scary chemical.


Excuse my ignorance but WTF is aerogel used for?

heat insulation
sound insulation

among other things.

This exotic substance has many unusual properties, such as low thermal conductivity, refractive index and sound speed - in addition to its exceptional ability to capture fast moving dust. Aerogel is made by high temperature and pressure-critical-point drying of a gel composed of colloidal silica structural units filled with solvents. Aerogel was prepared and flight qualified at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). JPL also produced aerogel for the Mars Pathfinder and Stardust missions, which possesses well-controlled properties and purity. This particular JPL-made silica aerogel approaches the density of air. It is strong and easily survives launch and space environments. JPL aerogel capture experiments have flown previously and been recovered on Shuttle flights, Spacelab II and Eureca.


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