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Improving the mechanical properties of clay/polymer aerogels by a simple dip-coating procedure

Authors

  • J. R. Johnson III,

    1. Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106-7202
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  • D. A. Schiraldi

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106-7202
    • Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106-7202
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Clay aerogels have many advantages as one of the lowest density family of materials current technology can provide; they possess very low thermal conductivities, high porosities, and high surface areas. Although the mechanical properties of native clay aerogels are rather low, incorporating water-dispersible polymers into the clay gel before they are processed into aerogel forms can easily produce more robust, low-density composites. Various processing modifications and additives can be employed to strengthen the aerogel material, but currently, the materials have some notable weaknesses in abrasion resistance, water absorption, and flexural properties. In this study, we employed a low-cost rubber coating material to quickly and efficiently address all three of these problems. After coating, the aerogels gained significant mechanical reinforcement, a 20-fold increase in flexural modulus and a 15-fold increase in yield stress, while exhibiting an increase of only 8% in the thermal conductivity. Improvements such as these can improve the commercial applicability of clay/polymer aerogels as thermal insulation materials. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2012

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