A simple and fast procedure to obtain hydrophobic aerogels

A CSIC team at the Instituto de Agroquímica y Tecnología de Alimentos has developed a procedure to prepare hydrophobic aerogels, based on biopolymers, in a simple and fast way. The resulting material has good mechanical properties and is resistant to humidity. The team is now looking for companies interested in licensing the patent.

Photograph showing how the hydrophobic aerogel repels the water droplet. Image credits: IATA-CSIC.Aerogels are highly porous materials that have a low density. The processes available to generate aerogels are complex, require multiple steps, use high-cost materials and polluting chemical compounds.

CSIC scientists at the Instituto de Agroquímica y Tecnología de Alimentos (IATA) have developed a new process that enables the obtention of hydrophobic aerogels with good mechanical properties in a simple way and using low-cost, renewable and biodegradable materials. As these aerogels are composed of cellulosic materials, the raw material can be extracted from biomass waste.

An advantage is that it is possible to add new compounds, such as antioxidant extracts, to the production process, which would allow to give specific properties to the aerogel, depending on the intended purpose.

The aerogels obtained can be used for various applications, such as cleaning oil spills in water, biomedicine, food packaging or acoustic insulation.

For example, when used as a food packaging, these aerogels would help to extend the shelf life of packaged food products. They could also be used for oil adsorption, like cleaning crude oil spills, as their hydrophobic nature would allow to selectively capture oil and repel water. Their moisture resistance and good mechanical properties also make these aerogels a potential material for thermal insulation.

The scientific team is currently looking for companies interested in licensing the patent for the development of applications.

Contact:

Josep Calaforra Guzman
Instituto de Agroquímica y Tecnología
de Alimentos - CSIC
Tel.: 96 390 00 22
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