This is currently the lightest sound insulation material ever manufactured. This material, as demonstrated by researchers at the University of Bath, could reduce noise by up to 16 decibels, and it only weighs 2.1kg per cubic meter (or about 0.13 lb per cubic foot). Compared to conventional polyester urethane sound-absorbing foams, like the Kinetics KUA, which weighs 32 kg per cubic meter (or 2lbs per cubic foot), this new graphene-based material only has one-fifteenth of that weight.
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“This is clearly a very exciting material that could be applied in a number of ways – initially in aerospace but potentially in many other fields such as automotive and marine transport, as well as in building and construction,” says Professor Michele Meo, who led the research. “We managed to produce such an extremely low density by using a liquid combination of graphene oxide and a polymer, which are formed with whipped air bubbles and freeze-casted. On a very basic level, the technique can be compared with whipping egg whites to create meringues – it’s solid but contains a lot of air, so there is no weight or efficiency penalty to achieve big improvements in comfort and noise.”
In their paper, the researchers say they believe the aerogel will have other useful properties, including fire resistance and electromagnetic shielding, and there’s also the potential to develop it further to optimize its heat dissipation capabilities, which would be very handy in engine insulation. The team says it could be commercialized and in use within 18 months.
Now that’s incredible.
(Image Credit: University of Bath/ New Atlas)