Singapore : NUS develops world’s first green cellulose aerogel

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While it is predicted that global production of paper is expected to reach 500 million tonnes by 2020, a large amount of paper-related waste generated annually can cause massive destruction to the environment. Seeing that this will need immediate attention, the National University of Singapore (NUS) developed a new innovation of converting paper waste into useful products.

Led by Assistant Professor Duong Hai Minh from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, a research team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) created the world’s first green cellulose aerogels from paper waste using eco-friendly processes. This non-toxic, ultralight, flexible, extremely strong and water repellent material is ideal as a material for heat insulation in buildings.

According to Assistant Professor Duong Hai Minh, cellulose aerogels are one of the lightest and the finest insulation material in the world, unlike their traditional counterparts which is made with silica. Aerogels are made by converting paper waste with simple, cost-effective and eco-friendly method. The fabrication process uses 70 percent less energy and produces fewer chemicals into the air and water that can pollute. Aerogels also have several unique features, such as having much higher oil absorption capacity which is four times higher than that of other sorbents.

He also added that as these cellulose aerogels are heat insulation material, the water repellent property allows the material to be adaptable to both dry and rainy weather. Their structure remains stable for about six month in tropical climates such as Asia. Due to its slim and light weight feature, this material also increases the building’s strength, which results in slimmer walls, thus increasing building space.

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