A group of researchers at the National University of Singapore, have created an inexpensive way to convert plastic bottles into a lightweight aerogel that has some extraordinary properties. Plastic waste is a scourge that is burdening landfills and polluting the world’s oceans. The researchers have found a way to take those unwanted and unloved bottles and convert them into aerogels (solid material of extremely low density, produced by removing the liquid component from a conventional gel).
They are still discovering some of the things the aerogels can be used for, but already know that when treated with fire retardants, they can be used to protect fire-fighters from flames and intense heat. In fact, the aerogels can withstand temperatures of up to 620 degrees Celsius. That is seven times higher than the thermal lining used in conventional coats for fire-fighters. It also weighs 90% less than the material used today.