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May 05, 2021 Wednesday 12:46:09 PM IST

Converting Waste Metals to Aerogels

Science Innovations

Scientists at the National University of Singapore (NUS) has demonstrated a new eco-friendly technique to convert aluminium and magnesium waste into high-value, multifunctional aerogels. This upcycling method could be applied to all types of metal waste in powder form, such as metal chips and electronic waste. Metal waste is first ground into powder and mixed with chemical crosslinkers. The mixture is heated in the oven, frozen and then freeze-dried to create the aerogel. The process may vary slightly depending on the metal waste involved. On average, it takes about 1-3 days to transform powdered metal waste into aerogels, compared to three to seven days using conventional methods of producing aerogels. A piece of metal-based aerogel that is 1 sqm in size and 1 cm thick costs less than S$10.50, half the price of commercially available silica aerogel.