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Advanced Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate Aerogels from Plastic Waste for Acoustic and Thermal Insulation Applications

1
Department of Mechanical Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117575, Singapore
2
Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology, A*STAR, Singapore 637662, Singapore
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 18 April 2018 / Revised: 11 May 2018 / Accepted: 14 May 2018 / Published: 17 May 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aerogels 2018)
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Abstract

This work presents for the first time, a simple, practical and scalable approach to fabricating recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) aerogels for thermal and acoustic insulation applications. The rPET aerogels were successfully developed from recycled PET fibers and polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) and glutaraldehyde (GA) cross-linkers using a freeze-drying process. The effects of various PET fiber concentrations (0.5, 1.0 and 2.0 by wt.%), fiber deniers (3D, 7D and 15D) and fiber lengths (32 mm and 64 mm) on the rPET aerogel structures and multi-properties were comprehensively investigated. The developed rPET aerogels showed a highly porous network structure (98.3–99.5%), ultra-low densities (0.007–0.026 g/cm3), hydrophobicity with water contact angles of 120.7–149.8°, and high elasticity with low compressive Young’s modulus (1.16–2.87 kPa). They exhibited superior thermal insulation capability with low thermal conductivities of 0.035–0.038 W/m.K, which are highly competitive with recycled cellulose and silica-cellulose aerogels and better than mineral wool and polystyrene. The acoustic absorption results were also found to outperform a commercial acoustic foam absorber across a range of frequencies. View Full-Text
Keywords: aerogels; recycled PET fiber; plastic waste; acoustic insulation; thermal insulation; mechanical property aerogels; recycled PET fiber; plastic waste; acoustic insulation; thermal insulation; mechanical property
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Koh, H.W.; Le, D.K.; Ng, G.N.; Zhang, X.; Phan-Thien, N.; Kureemun, U.; Duong, H.M. Advanced Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate Aerogels from Plastic Waste for Acoustic and Thermal Insulation Applications. Gels 2018, 4, 43.

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