Chemical Technology is a rapidly advancing field with tons of new discoveries every day. What couldn’t even be imagined yesterday is being used in the field today! Some of the coolest major advances have already had far-reaching impacts while others are still developing. These are just some of what’s upcoming in chemical technology this year.
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The Lightest Solid Known to Man
Aerogel is an ultra lightweight compound with 90% less density than water, making it just 100 times denser than air. Aerogel made by taking a traditional gel, which has liquid between the spaces of the matrix (like a sponge), and carefully drying it out. The extremely low density means not only can a block can be balanced on a feather, but the same block can also protect that feather from a multi-hundred degree fire! Aerogel is considered an ultimate insulator and is even used in some cosmetics.
A Heating Blanket Changes Everything
Sometimes the biggest innovations are actually the simplest, such as a Powerblanket pail heater. Many common chemicals and chemical reactions are limited by heat– or lack thereof. Everything from concrete to paint and oil reacts and works differently when heat is added to the equation, so a portable means of adding reliable heat in the field means that common materials can take on uncommon properties and work in really cool ways. Using a heater allows for otherwise unusably thick liquid coatings to be applied without diluting them, meaning they keep 100% of their original properties. Many pail heaters also double as insulating sleeves to slow down reactions. Talk about ultimate control! With all the chemicals we use to paint, coat, mix, fill, and otherwise build our lives, getting the most out of them is a major advance!
Life-saving Goop Hats
D3O is a unique non-Newtonian fluid, meaning it remains a fluid putty until it is hit or otherwise vibrated. A more commonly known non-Newtonian fluid can be made by combining cornstarch with water. D3O’s unique structure makes it become ultra-hard on impact, forming a protective shell perfectly molded to absorb shock. This weird goo lines all kinds of sports and military gear to protect against everything from rough falls to shrapnel or bullets! A simple beanie with D3O sewn in acts as a lifesaving helmet in the event of a fall.
Advances in chemical technology and ideas are not only awesome, but allow us to build a stronger and better future. Whether it’s inventing an entirely new solid, or changing the rules of the game for thousands of reactions, chemical technology is definitely crazy cool.
By Brooke Chaplan