Scientist Makes Wonder Material from Rice Husks

Cheap 'aerogel' would slash electricity needs, bomb-proof buildings
By Laila Weir,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 29, 2008 5:10 PM CST
Scientist Makes Wonder Material from Rice Husks
Dunlop Sport has developed squash and tennis rackets strengthened with aerogel. In this picture, Serbia's Novak Djokovic throws a racket as he plays Switzerland's Roger Federer during their Men's singles semi final at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 25, 2008....   (Associated Press)

Rice husks might be the key to lowering electricity use, bomb-proofing buildings and making products—from airplanes to tennis rackets—lighter. A Malaysian scientist says she’s found a cheap way to create aerogel, the world’s lightest solid, from discarded rice husks. The material combines incredible insulating power and strength with near weightlessness, reports AP, but has so far been prohibitively expensive to make.

Aerogel is 37 times more effective as an insulator than fiberglass, so coating buildings with it would slash heating and air-conditioning needs. It also absorbs air pollutants and works well for bomb- and sound-proofing. Peers called the scientist’s work “an exciting breakthrough” and a “miracle solution” to creating cheap aerogel. The process won’t be ready for commercial use for a few years. (More aerogel stories.)

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