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Aerogel Vacuum Balloons

Only 3 times as heavy as air, can resist lots of pressure
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Aerogel is such nifty stuff that I'm going to stop here for the moment, add some links, and then add some more text.

The NYT article says that aerogel holds 14 records in the Guiness Book.

This stuff should work for a vacuum balloon shell. The outer surface probably needs to be given a thin coating in order to make sure it is air-tight.

I'm not sure how small a vacuum balloon can be, if made with an aerogel shell. Perhaps a foot in diameter (about 1/3 meter). I'm quite sure a meter-diameter balloon would work; it may not even need to be fully evacuated to float at sea-level! (Also, a partial-pressure balloon wouldn't have to resist as much air pressure, so its shell could be thinner.)

Vernon, Oct 24 2008

Aerogel http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerogel
A nice article at Wikipedia [Vernon, Oct 24 2008]

More on aerogel http://query.nytime...3A15752C0A9629C8B63
The New York Times describes a search for a suitable material for a NASA project. [Vernon, Oct 24 2008]

Resisting Pressure http://www.geekolog...smoke_is_awesom.php
A really cool picture! [Vernon, Oct 24 2008]

Lots More http://images.googl...e=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi
Pictures and links, courtesy of Google [Vernon, Oct 24 2008]

Hot Hydrogen Balloon Hot_20hydrogen_20balloon
[MisterQED, Oct 24 2008]

(?) Develop a lighter-than-air solid Develop_20a_20lighter-than-air_20solid
Aerogels were discussed in detail in this halfbakery idea over the past seven years. [Amos Kito, Oct 25 2008]

Blue Bird http://www.solgel.c...s/dec02/aeroart.asp
Aerogel art, created in a mold. [Amos Kito, Oct 25 2008]

wikipedia on microlattice, and just slightly, aerographite https://en.wikipedi...tallic_microlattice
[beanangel, Dec 27 2017]


       Interesting but my idea is better, see Hot Hydrogen Balloon (link). I added a glass outer shell for strength and rigidity and a process to launch the balloon from sea level and survive the pressure.
MisterQED, Oct 24 2008

       The problem with Aerogels under tension is that they tend to shatter. It's also quite hard to shape them into anything other than lumps or squares or slabs.   

       A better idea might be to fill each gel pocket with hydrogen instead of, if I remember correctly, CO2. No idea if that would work, but it might decrease the density further so much as they float by themselves.   

       Oh, and aerogels are expensive. Very expensive.
mitxela, Oct 24 2008

       [mitxela], aerogels are expensive mostly because the stuff is not yet in such demand that lots of effort has been put into finding less expensive manufacturing methods. We also can ignore such things here at the HalfBakery, when posting Ideas. Next, I'm sure any shape that can be molded (such as a hemisphere) can be the final shape of a block of aerogel. Next, ANYTHING solid will shatter if enough force is applied; you are not saying anything new, AND you are not showing that the steady pressure against a partial-pressure aerogel-shell at low altitude, or against a vacuum-filled aerogel shell at high altitude, will be crushed. I ignore your remark, therefore.
Vernon, Oct 25 2008

       It's so fragile, you'd have to use a microscopic process to carve it into shapes -- maybe with a laser? It resembles a hologram and could be formed into fascinating sculptures. Hang on, somebody's done that. [Link]   

       Aerogel is extremely porous glass, formed as a foam. It can be crushed by a fingertip. Perhaps the idea is to use a stronger composite material instead of silicon dioxide. Then it can be crushed by a thumb.   

       Off-Topic: As to sculpture, can glass be made to "foam" in a less expensive process? A little thicker, a little stronger, but still almost transparent.
Amos Kito, Oct 25 2008

       [mitxela], it appears I left something out of my previous annotation. If an aerogel shell is used for a vacuum balloon, that evacuated shell will be under compression by the outside air, not tension. So, see the "Resisting Pressure" link.
Vernon, Dec 27 2017

       And now there is microlattice! Wikipedia [link] says "Metallic microlattices are characterized by very low densities, with the 2011 record of 0.9 mg/cm3 being among the lowest values of any known solid. The previous record of 1.0 mg/cm3 was held by silica aerogels, and aerographite is claimed to have a density of 0.2 mg/cm3."   

       At first I thought microlattice balloon, but aerographite would be the latest.
beanangel, Dec 27 2017

       Nobody sneeze at the metallic microlattices factory...
not_morrison_rm, Dec 29 2017


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