100 Nano-Stories: Airloys!
Finding the perfect solution to the inadequacies of Aerogel for real-world applications has been a constant struggle for mankind. We recognize the potential and the impact on society this lightweight material can cause, but inconsistencies have led us to believe that this vision was no more than a dream.
The birth of new technologies emerges from identifying the problem and applying the solution to the problem to resolve the outcomes of the future. But to understand the potential of the future, we must revisit the past and realize the summit of a critical point in manufacturing innovation. Understanding the deficiencies of Aerogel provides us a platform from where to begin to engineer and enhance creativity, leading to more consistent results.
💡I would politely recommend reading about my previous article on Aerogel before reading about Airloys to provide a better explanation of the benefits, procedures, and problems of Aerogel leading up to the ingenuity and development of Airloys.💡
Aerogel is Brilliant. But I like this….
Airloys are the future engineering materials revolutionizing the low density of conventional plastics while enhancing the properties of Aerogel.
Airloys are one of the world’s lightest (least dense) materials ever engineered. Its composition can be between 0.11 grams per cubic centimeter (0.11 g/cc) to 0.2 grams per cubic centimeter (0.2 g/cc)! A one-inch disk of Airloy weighs around 0.57 grams!
Similar to Aerogel, Airloys start as a wet alcohol-based gel that is similar to edible gelatin and replace the liquid in the micropores with air. At first glance, Airloys do contain certain properties of Aerogel like superinsulation, non-flammability, and soundproofing. But thanks to advancements in technology, we have our new prototype: AEROGEL 2.0!
New and Improved Superpowers!
Robust and Flexible 📏 Airloys can be optimized to be stiff or flexible depending on their purpose. The strength of this ultralightweight material has a strength to weigh excess of around 20,000:1! Seriously, how is this even possible!?
Strong 💪Airloys will not break at the moment of applying direct point loads. You can step on it with your foot, fidget around with it, run over it with your car all day long, and it will remain completely intact!
Hydrophobic 🌊🚫Airloys are impervious to water due to hydrophobes like trimethylsilyl. The trimethylsilyl groups will bond to hydroxyl (OH) groups that rearrange the structure of the OH groups into a large non-polar group to create the hydrophobic property of Airloys (Aerogels can also be engineered to be hydrophobic).
Machinable 🗜️Airloys have the mechanical properties to be cut, drilled, glued, etc. Airloys open a new door for current and emerging real-world engineering purposes that Aerogels were not able to obtain.
Ultra Soundproof 🔊🚫While Aerogels have the ability to have the capacity to be ultra soundproof, Airloys can eliminate sound than other materials in current windows by a 10–35 dB/cm sound transmission loss.
I am intrigued! But how is this possible? How was Airloy engineered to solve certain problems Aerogel bestowed upon us?
Airloy Manufacturing! (Top Secret!)
Aerogels were once thought to be nothing more than just an engineering wonder because of their brittleness, non-engineerability, and hydrophilicity. It turns out when you zoom into the Aerogel through an electron microscope, the Aerogel particles are weakly interconnected particles that deter the usage of Aerogel for real-world applications. Solution?
To rectify and strengthen the microscopic, solid skeletal structure of classic Aerogel, we must zoom in on the skeleton and begin to coat the interior surface of the Aerogel skeleton with a polymer coating. Polymers are materials that are composed of a wide network of repeating macromolecules or otherwise known as subunits. This allows for the skeletal structure of the Aerogel to increase its strength and durability. But hold on for a moment. If we can coat the skeleton with polymer coating, why not combine the structure of the polymer network and the Aerogel particles in the nanostructured skeleton? ✨
The solid nanostructure particles of Aerogel are weakly interconnected throughout the entire structure. But what if we can apply the structure of a polymer and replicate the network of a polymer into the Aerogel skeleton? The final product is interconnectivity between all the Aerogel particles to decrease the space of Aerogel and increase the strength of the Aerogel dramatically. ✨
Brace for Impact!!! 🚀
Airloys are capable of disrupting society in numerous real-world applications. But does that mean Aerogel is nothing more than a stepping stone to the overall solution? NO!!! Aerogel has already made a significant impact on coating/preserving valuables and space technologies. However, Aerogel is brittle, hydrophilic, and non-engineerable, which does not make Aerogel an ideal material for our current operations in society.
But for Airloys, they solve the obstacles that Aerogel presented, which leads to what everyone has been anticipating: What industries can Airloys disrupt?
Space Exploration: Creating and coating spacecrafts, spacesuits, and instruments of a spacecraft with Airloy will protect space and prevent spacecrafts from overheating while decreasing the cost of the payload system of the rocket when launched into…SPACE.
Airline Industry: Lightweight superpower combined with the properties of thermal and sound insulation will reduce the weight of airplanes; therefore wasting less money on fuel and preserving the quality of the aircraft!
Marine Exploration: The enhancements in Airloy’s hydrophobic properties and low density can be used for wetsuits, vehicles, underwater instruments, etc. to reduce cost and diminish the weight a diver or a submarine has to transfer when commencing the journey into the marine world.
Engineering Applications: Airloys have the ludicrous properties to be machined from construction purposes to the frame for that wonderful photo you took when you visited Disneyland for the first time!
AND THE LIST GOES ON!…. 😵
Then what are we waiting for?
Every technology innovation comes with a huge cost and enormous amounts of energy expenditure. The process of removing the liquid from the Aerogel/Airloy to replace the space with air is a very complex process. When the time arrives for Aerogel and Airloys to be manufactured at a large scale, new processes and techniques must be developed and manufactured shortly to increase production and reduce cost.
But don’t be pessimistic! While there are questions to be resolved, humanity has found answers to these questions! Nothing is stopping us from becoming a more advanced species. With more perseverance and research, we may have the next breakthrough in the future!
Airloys can potentially disrupt several industries thanks to their new and improved abilities!
Unfortunately, these little disruptors come with a huge cost in energy consumption and manufacturing!
However, in the future, we may have a solution to lower the cost of manufacturing these wonderful inventions!
Ah, I see you have made it to the end! Hello, everyone! 👋 My name is Carlos Manuel. I am a 16-year-old who is passionate about space tech, quantum computing, philosophy, and politics. If you are interested in this article, emerging tech, politics, or just wanting to jam out about perspectives and values, message me through LinkedIn, Instagram, Medium, Twitter, and firstname.lastname@example.org! 😊 See you soon!
© 2021 by Carlos Manuel Jarquin Sanchez. All Rights Reserved.