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Homemade X-Aerogel

  1. Dec 4, 2009 #1
    I am planing to make some X-Aerogel out of Sodium Silicate (aka Water glass) and polystyrene (aka Styrofoam)

    this combo will produce an Aerogel that is both cheap and can be ambiently dried with hexan without the need for Supercritically drying. Hexane is pretty cheap its one of the main ingredients in gasoline. My solvent will be acetone also cheap. The sodium silicate will be gelled with the base ammonia (also cheap.)

    An X-Aerogel is an Aerogel with polymers added to increase strength about 300 times with a mass increase of *3. this also gives X Aerogel the ability to bend. how this works is the polymers attach to the hydroxyl groups on the outside of the Aerogels structure. They act as Duck tape holding the structure together.

    my planned procedure

    1.Mix the sodium silicate with ammonia to activate the hydroxyl to form sol gel

    2.wash sodium silicate gel with acetone 5 or 6 times

    3.drop some Styrofoam into the acetone (should dissolve into the gel not sure on that part)

    4.give the polystyrene time to bond to the hydroxyl groups on the sodium silicate

    5.exchange the acetone with Hexane and let the Aerogel dry

    Being about 300 times stronger then regular Aerogel it should be able to dry ambiently with the hexane without cracking or shrinking past 80% original volume.

    Any input would be welcome i still haven't done any calculations on the amount of H2O, polystyrene or ammonia needed.

    This may make some Ghetto Aerogel but i need to create some for a school project and
    building a Supercritically dryer is out of the question.

    http://eetd.lbl.gov/ECS/Aerogels/sa-making.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 5, 2009 #2
    Look into making SEAgel, though not as useful I am sure it would be cheaper and easier to make if you have a decent vacuum and OK temperature control. It is made by freezing an agar gel and then sublimating the ice in the a vac... This creates something even lighter then Aerogel, and you can eat it... Check it out:

    When full of a lighter gas, or hot.. I think it can be even lighter then air!
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  4. Dec 6, 2009 #3
    like the idea but my project requires me to make a chunk that can be used for a window.
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