The builders of today’s luxury yacht charter vessels often turn to aluminum, Kevlar, and plastic resins to make lightweight and fuel-efficient boats.
That all may change – thanks to a bug…
Aerogels are among the lightest solid materials in existence. Created by replacing the liquid component of a gel with a gas, aerogels are extremely low in density, and hence, fairly buoyant. Now scientists have created a new aerogel, inspired by the feet of an insect – the tiny “water strider.”
The new aerogel is so buoyant, a yacht made from one pound (454 grams) of it could carry about 1,000 pounds (454 kg) of cargo.
Created by a team of professors and scientists at the Helsinki University of Technology, the new aerogel contains tiny fibers – nano-fibrils – derived from cellulose in plants. These fibers allow the aerogel to float by using the same physics principles evidenced by the water strider’s long, skinny feet. The water strider’s feet are covered in tiny hairs that trap air, and each air bubble helps distribute the insect’s weight across the water, keeping it from breaking the surface tension.
In addition to commercial boat-building aspects, the bug-inspired aerogel could find use in environmental pollution sensors, children’s water toys, and beach floats. Even more promising is the potential application in environmental protection. It seems the gel is able to absorb large amounts of oil – making it well-suited for oil spill cleanups.
This entry was posted in Yacht Charter News Educational and tagged aerogel, oil spill cleanups, boat building, environmental protection, Helsinki University of Technology, plant cellulose, a bug's life, yacht charter blog, travel gadgets, water striderPosted on