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Sunday, 1 February 2009

Maerogel: Malaysian Aerogel from Rice Husks


Today I came upon some literature that I had taken from an exhibition some time ago. Of interest was a product known as "Maerogel" produced by Prof. Dr. Halimaton Hamdan, of the Dept of Chemistry at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. She had patented a method of creating aerogel from rice husks at a fraction of the normal cost. Features of the product are:
  • Lightest solid - 3 times the density of air.
  • Consists of 96% air
  • Space-Age nanomaterial
  • Gel filled with air
  • Porous amorphous solid with pore diameter of 1 - 30 nm
  • Large surface area - 600 to 900 m2 per g
  • Dialectic material - thermal, electrical and acoustic insulator
I felt intrigued. Naturally I had to see the patent. Google Patents has the patent no. 10578774 filed under PCT on 9th April 2007. The original patent was filed in Malaysia in 2004. From the abstract of the patent:

This invention relates to silica aerogels and to a method for their preparation from rice husk. Rice husk is very rich in silica, and its ash can contain up to 92-97% of amorphous silica. The rice husk ash is prepared by burning the rice husk on a heating plate with excess air until the white ash is obtained. Silica from rice husk ash is in a very active form and has been found to be a very potential starting material for silica aerogels.


Other notable posts on the web on this invention worth reading include:
  • IHT, Malaysian scientist turns rice husk into high tech insulator that could cut electric bills. 29th February 2008. URL: http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/02/29/asia/AS-FEA-GEN-Malaysia-Super-Insulator.php
  • Treehugger, Architectural Innovation and Energy Savings Could Result from Super-Insulator Breakthrough. 7th March 2008. URL: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/07/breakthrough-architectural-energy-savings.php
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