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One day, Union College's Aerogel Team's novel way of making "frozen smoke" could improve some of our favorite machines, including cars.

"When you hold aerogel it feels like nothing -- like frozen smoke. It's about 95 to 97 percent air," said Ann Anderson, professor of mechanical engineering. "Nano-porous, solid and very low density, aerogel is made by removing solvents from a wet-gel. It's used for many purposes, like thermal insulation (on the Mars Rover), in windows or in extreme-weather clothing and sensors."

Together with Brad Bruno, associate professor of mechanical engineering, Mary Carroll, professor of chemistry and others, Anderson is studying the feasibility of commercializing their aerogel fabrication process. A time and money-saver, it could appeal to industries already using aerogel made in other ways.

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