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Silica Aerogels Formed From Soluble Silicates and MTMs Using CO2 as a Gelation Agent

UW ID: 18-017

Description of Technology

          Silica aerogel is a super lightweight material that is made up of 95% air. It is very strong in compression with respect to its weight. This material has been around for a long time but uses are just starting to surface as it become more available. One of these uses is to insulate electronics on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers. Silica aerogel is still expensive to produce which is keeping it from entering into the mainstream market.

          Researchers at the University of Wyoming have invented a new method of creating silica aerogels from soluble silicates and methyltrimethoxylsilane (MTM) using CO2 as a gelation agent. The process starts by mixing a water glass solution with a MTM material to form a silicate material. This is then exposed to water and then alcohol to form an alcogel material. A surface modification is performed on the alcogel material and then it is finally dried at ambient pressure to form a silica aerogel. Because the aerogel is dried at ambient pressure, it is a low-cost process compared to traditional ways of creating silica aerogel that require an elevated pressure drying process. This new method is also more straightforward than traditional methods because there is no ion exchange resin used. The silica aerogel that is created has a silica polymer-like chain size of about 10-20nm.



          Silica aerogel is a futuristic material that is just starting to find uses in today’s industries. It can be applied in many ways such as an energy or acoustic dampening, as a structural material in the aerospace industry, and even for oil absorption. This technology’s method of creating silica aerogel is cost effective and straightforward. Current silica aerogel manufacturers could benefit from this technology by incorporating it into their production method in order to lower costs and simplify their process. This could make the production of silica aerogel more feasible and cost effective which could bring it to a greater market sooner.


Features & Benefits

  • Dried in ambient temperature

  • No ion exchange resin used

  • Silica polymer-like chain size of about 10-20nm

  • Low cost process

  • Straightforward process

Downloadable PDF: 18-017


Maohong Fan

Xiaodong Wu

Xiaodong Shen

Sheng Cui

Gang Tan

Patent Status:  

Patent Pending


Contact Us: 

University of Wyoming Technology Transfer and Research Products Center 

Dept. 3672

1000 E. University Ave. 

Laramie, WY 


Phone: 307-766-2520

Fax: 307-766-2530


Contact Us

Wyoming Technology Transfer and Research Products Center

Dept. 3672

1000 E. University Ave.

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-2520

Fax: (307) 766-2530


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