Aerogels, the lightest and most porous materials known to man, have existed since the 1930s – and were used to insulate the Mars Pathfinder rover in the 1990s.
And with an estimated eight million tonnes of plastic waste entering the world’s oceans each year, there is no shortage of material that could be recycled into aerogel products instead.
Their possible real-life applications include:
- As a lining for fire-retardant coats and carbon dioxide absorption masks that could be used during a fire;
- better heat and sound insulation in buildings; and
- cleaning oil spills.
You may want to read
1) Caterpillar eats plastic
2) Researchers accidentally engineer plastic-eating enzyme
3) A made-in-Singapore solution to the world's plastic waste problem
4) Plastic-eating mealworms could help clean up the environment