NASA develops ultra strong aerogel for automotive industry

NASA develops aerogel with expectional insulation properties
NASA has developed a new mechanically robust polyimide aerogel that it claims is up to 500 times stronger than conventional aerogels.

According to experts at the organisation's Glenn Research Centre, the cross-linked polyimide material is lightweight and porous with low thermal conductivity, making it ideal for numerous automotive applications.

The aerogel can be formed into monoliths or thin films for use in acoustic and thermal insulation, vibration damping, thin-film coatings, or anywhere structural foam is currently used in vehicles. It is said to be flexible and foldable, with 'unprecedented' compressive and tensile strength.

In addition, the material can withstand temperatures up to 400°C. Because it provides better thermal and acoustic insulation, NASA says the overall weight and bulk of the insulation is reduced. This allows for a smaller manufactured product, thus reducing manufacturing costs and other associated expenses.

"The new aerogels are up to 500 times stronger than their silica counterparts," said project leader Mary Meador. "A thick piece actually can support the weight of a car. And they can be produced in a thin form, a film so flexible that a wide variety of commercial and industrial uses are possible."

Laura Hopperton

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