The more ways mankind comes up with ways to get rid of plastic waste, the better, no matter how exotic individual developments look. At the National University of Singapore, they learned how to turn old PET containers through complex chemical-physical processes into a weightless and multifunctional airgel.
The initial raw material, plastic, is shredded to the smallest state, after which this mass is covered with silicon dioxide. This is followed by a series of chemical processes, which are kept secret for the time being, to make the fibers of the processed plastic "swell". They are dried and an airgel is obtained - a light, porous, flexible and at the same time very durable material.
Airgel, first of all, is an excellent sorbent - it is 7-10 times more effective than popular modern materials. It has a colossal interior area, which, coupled with its negligible own weight, helps to absorb and retain significant amounts of liquid mud, oil, oil, etc. It can also act as a filter in face masks, with the same effect. And with the right additives, trap even deadly compounds like carbon monoxide.
It is also a good acoustic material and a very good fire retardant one. In the fireproof version, as an element of a firefighter's outfit, the airgel layer withstood heating up to 620 ° C, which is many times higher than the standard for materials used to create protective clothing. At the same time, it weighs 10 times less, and due to the fact that it is created from waste raw materials, it can become a real competitor to other alloys and compositions on the market.
The authors of the technology have patented it and are now trying to keep the details secret until an investor or partner is found to launch the production of airgel for the needs of the global industry.