Space Age Insulation To The Rescue

By: Jill Cordes
By: Jill Cordes

It insulated vital parts of the Mars Pathfinder. And protects undersea oil pipelines from extreme temperatures. Now a type of insulation called aerogel is coming to you. And that could mean valuable savings on your energy bill, in the form of home insulation.

Invented nearly 80 years ago, aerogel is a very lightweight material that was once extremely fragile and costly to make. So much so, it was hard to make anything for the mass market using the material.

Now, advancements have allowed flexible forms of aerogel to be made into blankets, thin sheets, molded parts and more with superior insulating abilities.

How superior? A half-inch thick piece of aerogel offers better insulation than a three-inch thick piece of fiberglass.

It's still pricey for now. But scientists in Malaysia have figured out a way to make aerogel using agricultural waste from rice husks.

As prices come down and usage goes up, aerogel offers a cool, space age way to conserve energy.


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