100 Nano-Stories: Brief Introduction To Starlite!
Episode #19: History of Starlite!
Aerogel is potentially a billion-dollar material in the next 5–10 years! Who imagined that such a lightweight material weighing 99.8% air by volume can potentially change the way we live; from our clothes to the space & marine industry, and more!
However, aerogel stole the shadow of a potential candidate who demonstrated similar thermal properties to the aerogel.
But what is that material, Carlos?
Ladies & gentlemen, I present you to. . .
Starlite is a material that is (or more appropriately, was) supposedly able to resist temperatures of up to 10,000ºC!
This was actually demonstrated live on a television show called “Tomorrow’s World” from BBC back in 1990. It was known to the world as the “Egg Test”. Similar to the photo above, an egg was covered in a coating of this substance, and it was placed in the fire.
What happened, Carlos?
The egg didn’t catch on fire and the egg remained raw and intact after peeling away the layers of Starlite. But the coolest (and weirdest) part about this is the person who was demonstrating the thermal properties of Starlite touched the egg right after it was removed from the fire. But he didn’t jump in pain or anything! He just held it in his hands, claiming it was warm to the touch.
Lies, Carlos! Prove it!
After watching the video, it should be no surprise that Starlite was receiving so much attention because of its thermal properties! It’s basically airloys (polymer aerogels) but in a paste!
So why did it not reach the level of aerogels and their polymer counterparts, Carlos?
The Mastermind Behind Starlite!
Starlite was discovered in a lab with a bunch of scientists pioneering the next thermal material.
Carlos, that’s not the real story! 😂
Just kidding, everyone! The way Starlite was created was by an amateur scientist, and surprisingly, a hairdresser by the name of Maurice Ward! He created the material that has the potential to strengthen tanks, army suits, planes, and more from bombs/explosions. The release of energy released from the bomb would make anything coated with Starlite impervious to the heat released from the explosion!
It should be no surprise that because of its chemistry, many large organizations would be calling Maurice Ward and begging for more of this ludicrous, yet so marvelous, of a chemical breakthrough in material science & engineering!
Not to mention the fact that he used the trial-and-error method when creating these substances with just hair sprays, gel, and other products that he had available to him!
So Why Is Starlite Unknown?
Before the demonstration of Starlite on “Tomorrow’s World”, Mr. Ward tried proving the capabilities of his product, but so many people rejected him.
After the BBC Episode on “Tomorrow’s World” in 1990, airplane companies, the military, and even NASA wanted to get a whiff of this wonder material. These companies & organizations tried to get him to reveal the formula behind Starlite, but all Mr. Ward did was give them pieces of Starlite for them to collect data from the results, but there was not much interference in the discovery behind Starlite.
But it wasn’t just the organization that wanted Starlite and its secret to making it. Customers were seeking a high number of offers to purchase Starlite & the formula/rights to the material, and once again, Mr. Ward kept the formula of Starlite a secret. There are no records about the secret to Starlite, and the formula wasn’t passed on to his friends/family members.
Starlite → Aerogels
Because Starlite never reached the potential and disruption it should have made in the industries, it has been lost to the history books. Despite having big names such as NASA, Boeing, etc. coming to him for the super-insulating material, it was only a matter of time before someone else created a modern version of Starlite.
And that’s where Aerogels entered the scene of Material Science & Engineering!
Wow, that was so interesting, Carlos! I had no idea about this material, let alone it was basically “Aerogel’s older brother”!
Glad you learned something new, Reader! Stay tuned tomorrow for how you can make your own Starlite with little equipment & materials!
Polymers → A class of natural or synthetic substances composed of huge molecules, called macromolecules. These macromolecules are multiples of simpler chemical units called monomers.
Monomers → A molecule that can react together with other monomer molecules to form a larger polymer.
Aerogel → An ultralight solid material with amazing hydrophobicity, thermal, and mechanical properties!
Starlite → A pasty solid with identical thermal properties to the thermal properties of Aerogel. Starlite is claimed to reach heat resistance up to 10,000ºC!
Resources + Bonus Content →💻
How does the 'wonder material' Starlite actually work? - BBC Reel
We ask material experts how Starlite can withstand such high temperatures. Part two of six.
Previous “100 Nano-Stories” →🔖
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