The researchers from CU Boulder have successfully developed a super-insulating gel capable of greatly increasing the energy efficiency of skyscrapers or other buildings. Someday, it may help the people that will colonize Mars to build habitats that act as greenhouses.
Aerogel, as it was called, resembles a flattened plastic contact lens, and is really heat-resistant. So much so that you could put some on your hand and then make a fire on top. You won’t feel a thing. Unlike other similar products available on the market, this one is almost completely see-through.
And because of this transparency, scientists say that you could use this gel for windows or even in the making of extraterrestrial habitats. The big problem with setting up such habitat on the Moon or even on Mars is represented by temperature oscillations. The transparent gel, being also thermally-insulating material will allow us to harvest sunlight and keep the energy inside so that we won’t freeze later.
What is it made from?
First of all, because it is made from beer waste, you can imagine that it won’t cost too much to make it. Then, they are approximately 90% trapped air. There are some thin films which consist of crisscrossing patterns of solid material and in the resulting billions of tiny pores, the air is trapped. Think about the bubbles in a bubble wrap and you would have painted a pretty picture.
Because of this air entrapment, aerogels are incredibly good insulators. The team of scientists that worked on it managed to make it 100 times lighter than glass. Besides using it for space encampments, the building energy efficiency could take a turn among its priorities.
In the US alone, about 25% of energy is spent on trying to heat up or cool off buildings that lose heat through windows.
Laura grew up in a small town in northern Quebec. She studied chemistry in college, graduated, and married her husband one month later. They were then blessed with two baby boys within the first four years of marriage. Having babies gave their family a desire to return to the old paths – to nourish their family with traditional, homegrown foods; rid their home of toxic chemicals and petroleum products; and give their boys a chance to know a simple, sustainable way of life. They are currently building a homestead from scratch on two little acres in central Texas. There’s a lot to be done to become somewhat self-sufficient, but they are debt-free and get to spend their days living this simple, good life together with their five young children. Laura is an advocate for people with disabilities.