A research team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Faculty of Engineering has successfully devised a fast, cheap and green method to convert cotton-based fabric waste, such as unwanted clothing, into highly compressible and ultralight cotton aerogels.
Aerogels are among the lightest materials in the world and are highly porous with strong absorption capacity and low thermal conductivity.
While aerogels were first created in the 1930s, this advanced material has not been widely adopted by industries due to its high production cost.
Contributing to this global effort, the NUS team has successfully pioneered the development of aerogels using cotton fibres harvested from textile waste.
"This new eco-friendly cotton aerogel is a major improvement from the aerogel that our team had previously developed using paper waste.
Furthermore, these cotton aerogels can be fabricated within eight hours - this is nine times faster than our earlier invention and about 20 times faster than current commercial fabrication processes.