• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Science Note: Aerographite

Air Date: Week of
Aerographite is comprised of 99.99% air. (Photo: TUHH)

Scientists have developed a new material six times lighter than air that can support something 40,000 times its own weight. Researchers hope to exploit these properties to make light-weight batteries for electric cars. Annabelle Ford reports.


FORD: Imagine a material six times lighter than air and 75 times lighter than Styrofoam. It exists. Scientists at Kiel University and Hamburg University Technology have created it, and call it aerographite. Aerographite is the newest, lightest material on earth. It weighs only 0.2 milligrams (CORRECTED-editor) per cubic centimeter, which is four times lighter than the previous record holder.

The key to its composition is a web of tiny carbon tubes but, surprisingly, that only makes up .01 percent of the material. The other 99.9 percent is air. And it turns out that there is a lot of potential for this surprisingly strong material which is electrically conductive and can withstand both compression and tension.

Not only can aerographite be compressed 95 percent, but it can be pulled back to its original form without any damage. This lightweight champion can also hold up something 40,000 times its own weight. Scientists are thinking about applying these properties to green transport technology- more specifically, vehicle batteries.

Because aerographite is both lightweight and electrically conductive, it could be used to create micro-batteries that are much lighter than any battery that currently exists now. This, in turn, would allow electric cars and e-bikes to function more efficiently because of their reduced weight.

The researchers see other potential for aerographite in water filtration and air purification for incubators. And factories that produce plastic can easily produce aerographite in their current facilities, since it's simple to create. It seems that there are a lot of ways to make this lightweight material have a heavy impact. That's this week's Note on Emerging Science. I'm Annabelle Ford.

Aerographite is comprised of 99.99% air. (Photo: TUHH)



Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

Living on Earth
62 Calef Highway, Suite 212
Lee, NH 03861
Telephone: 617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth