World’s lightest material to help clean oil spills

Graphene Aerogel_1

While there is no dearth of materials that can claim to be among the world’s heaviest, the world’s lightest title was being held by aerogel for more than eighty years. The material, which is also called “frozen smoke”, is 96 percent air and hence its weight is less. Last year researchers developed aerographite, which quickly jumped into the number one spot and one cubic centimeter of the stuff weighs just 0.2 milligram.

Challenging aerographite on weight, a team of scientists at China’s Zhejiang University have come up with a spongy material made using freeze dried carbon. The team calls it graphene aerogel and it weighs in at a tiny 0.16 milligram per cubic centimeter, which is just twice as dense as hydrogen.

However, the team isn’t much interested in the lightweight credentials of the material, but says that what fascinates them is the materials spongy texture, which would allow its use in oil spill cleanups. The wonder-material can absorb a whopping 900 times its own weight in oil and water and after absorption, the material could be easily reused after the cleanup effort.

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