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Frozen Smoke

By Amigos IAS

Why is it in the news?

  • Researchers have developed a sensor utilizing “frozen smoke” with artificial intelligence, capable of detecting formaldehyde in real-time, even at concentrations as low as eight parts per billion.
  • This sensor surpasses the sensitivity of numerous indoor air quality sensors, offering enhanced detection capabilities for formaldehyde contamination.

About Frozen smoke

  • Frozen smoke, technically known as aerogel, is an extraordinary material renowned for its unique properties. It earned its nickname due to its appearance, which resembles smoke frozen in time.
  • Aerogels were first developed in the 1930s through a process involving the removal of liquid from a gel substance, leaving behind a solid with extremely low density and high porosity.

Properties:

  • Aerogels have an incredibly low density, making them lightweight and buoyant. Despite their solid appearance, they are mostly composed of air, with pores that occupy the majority of their volume.
  • Aerogels exhibit exceptional thermal resistance, making them effective insulators. Their porous structure minimizes heat transfer, making them suitable for various applications requiring thermal insulation.
  • The structure of aerogels is highly porous, with interconnected voids throughout the material. This porous nature gives aerogels their unique properties, including their extremely low density and high surface area.
  • While aerogels are lightweight, they are also fragile. Applying excessive pressure can cause them to shatter into tiny pieces resembling glass. However, they can often regain their original shape when gently pressed due to their resilient structure.

Applications:

  • Aerogels are utilized as insulation materials in various industries, including construction, aerospace, and automotive.
  • The porous structure of aerogels enables them to effectively capture and adsorb pollutants and contaminants from air and water.
  • Aerogels are incorporated into sensors and detectors due to their high surface area and sensitivity to changes in their environment.
About Formaldehyde

·       Formaldehyde is a colourless, strong-smelling gas used in various industries for manufacturing a wide range of products.

·       It is commonly employed in the production of building materials such as plywood, particleboard, and insulation, as well as household products like adhesives, paints, and fabrics.

·       Formaldehyde is a volatile organic compound (VOC), meaning it readily evaporates into the air at room temperature. It is composed of a carbon atom bonded to two hydrogen atoms and an oxygen atom (CH2O).

·       Formaldehyde can be emitted by a variety of materials found in indoor environments, including pressed wood products, such as plywood and fibre board, as well as certain household products like paints, varnishes, and cleaning agents. It can also be released from combustion sources such as tobacco smoke and gas stoves.

·       Prolonged exposure to formaldehyde can have adverse health effects on humans, including irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, as well as respiratory symptoms such as coughing and wheezing. Formaldehyde exposure has also been linked to an increased risk of certain respiratory conditions and cancers, particularly nasopharyngeal cancer.

·       Due to its potential health hazards, formaldehyde emissions from consumer products are regulated in many countries. Monitoring and controlling formaldehyde levels in indoor environments are essential for maintaining indoor air quality and ensuring occupant health and safety.

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