Aerogels have been defined as solid colloidal or polymeric networks of nanoparticles that are expanded throughout their entire volume by a gas. They have high surface areas, low thermal conductivities, low dielectric constants, and high acoustic attenuation, all of which are very attractive properties for applications that range from thermal and acoustic insulation to dielectrics to drug delivery. However, one of the most important impediments to that potential has been that most efforts have been concentrated on monolithic aerogels, which are prone to defects and their production requires long and costly processing. An alternative approach is to consider manufacturing aerogels in particulate form. Recognizing that need, the European Commission funded “NanoHybrids”, a 3.5 years project under the Horizon 2020 framework with 12 industrial and academic partners aiming at aerogel particles from bio- and synthetic polymers. Biopolymer aerogels in particulate form have been reviewed recently. This mini-review focuses on the emerging field of particulate aerogels from synthetic polymers. That category includes mostly polyurea aerogels, but also some isolated cases of polyimide and phenolic resin aerogels. Particulate aerogels covered include powders, micro granules and spherical millimeter-size beads. For the benefit of the reader, in addition to the literature, some new results from our laboratory concerning polyurea particle aerogels are also included.
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