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Institute for Commercialization

Creation of Ultralow Density Porous Materials via Aerosol Gelation

Reference Number: K 04-12

Inventors: Sorensen, Chris; Chakrabarti, Amitabha

Owner: Kansas State University Research Foundation

USPTO Link:

Invention Summary

A novel method for producing porous materials with high specific surface area and extremely low density has been discovered.  Representing a vastly different approach to synthesis of ultralow density materials compared to the widely used sol-gel method, the newly discovered process involves the gelation of nanoparticles in the aerosol phase to create a material that has been given the name “aerosol gel”.  The unique, gas-phase nanoparticle synthesis method used in this process allows the input precursors to aggregate and gel very quickly, thus producing this new material on a very short timeframe.  So far, aerosol gels of silica and carbon have been produced that have very similar properties to that of silica and carbon aerogels.  These materials have densities as low as 2.5 mg/cc, surface areas as large as 400 m2/g, very low thermal conductivity, and variable electrical conductivity.

Advantages

Since the formation of the aerosol gels is made in the gas-phase, there is no need for the expensive, difficult, and time-consuming supercritical drying process inherent in the sol-gel production of commercial aerogel materials.  The aerosol gel production method is also predicted to be capable of synthesis of a wider array of low-density, high porosity materials, unlike the sol-gel counterpart which is limited by solution thermodynamics.

Potential impact of Aerosol Gels: 

  • Faster and less expensive production of ultralow density/highly-porous materials

  • More application to different markets stemming from a wider variety of materials available

Applications

  • Oil & Gas Processing Insulation

  • General Building and Vacuum Insulation

  • Electrochemical Double Layer Supercapacitors

  • Fuel Cell Catalysts

  • General Catalysts

  • Water Filtration Systems

  • Acoustic Damping

  • Cosmetics