How waste paper turns into a valuable high-tech material

(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists from the National University of Singapore have developed a technique for converting paper into an incredibly lightweight material with high insulating properties.

Most aerogels are made from silica, although there are some rather exotic versions made from graphene and gold. However, Singaporean scientists managed to come up with a method for obtaining airgel from waste paper.

The process is surprisingly simple: paper is shredded and mixed with water, polymer resin is added and the resulting mixture is thoroughly mixed using a high frequency sound.

Then this mass is settled and frozen at -18 °C for 24 hours, freeze-dried at -98 °C for two days and cured in an oven at 120 °C for three hours.

These processes completely rid the material of moisture.

The result is a cellulose airgel that is opaque and very porous, as it consists of 98.2% air, and is also flexible and quite strong.

It is able to absorb, for example, 90 times its dry weight of crude oil and 99% of this oil can then be pressed out.

Cellulose airgel can be an effective home insulation, protective packaging, used in winter clothing, or even as an absorbent material.

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