News Link • Science, Medicine and Technology • 2016-02-01


Aerogel is the material of the future— if you can make it work for you. The substance, a foam made of mostly air and either silica or carbon, is great for insulating, but it's traditionally been brittle and difficult to work with.

Lots of companies like The North Face and Champion can (and have tried to) use aerogel, but Oros (formerly called Lukla) is betting these larger companies think it's too much of a hassle to produce. The most famous example of this is Champion's 2010 summit of Mt. Everest, when they outfitted a Canadian mountaineer with a jacket seemingly as thin as a windbreaker to deal with extreme cold. The jacket never went into production, as they claimed it to be exorbitantly expensive.

Oros claims to have found a better way to produce aerogel, which insulates just as well as its more brittle counterparts, but is much easier to work with and doesn't rub off on the skin. Formerly, the substance needed to be contained within some kind of plastic or impermeable sealant to be used in clothing. Oros' flavor, called SolarCore Aerogel, does not.

Aerogel is 99 percent air, as the name implies. Our air's great ability to insulate does most of the work. NASA actually invented aerogel, and has been using it to insulate things like Mars rovers.

But Oros is putting this technology into jackets, gloves, and hats. By lining certain parts of the apparel with their flexible aerogel, which only absorbs a minute amount of heat, the clothing is able to better retain the heat made by the body. It's the dream of every winter clothing manufacturer— near-perfect heat retention.

Reported By Ernest Hancock