November 24, 2020

New Camel-Inspired Gel is Cooler than Cool

A group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, have developed an insulating gel that can keep items cool for days – and their inspiration came from the animal kingdom.

Camels have evolved to survive in the harshest conditions, as their fur prevents them from sweating so that they don’t lose water.

This key trait is what engineer Jeffrey Grossman and his MIT colleagues were looking to imitate when creating their gel.

The 10-millimetre-thick gel is split into two layers: a hydrogel layer that acts like a sweat gland – allowing water to evaporate and provide cooling – while the aerogel layer acts like fur to provide insulation and keep out heat.

Grossman explained: “We achieve evaporation and insulation at the same time, extending the cooling period significantly.”

The scientists tested their double-layered gel under controlled laboratory conditions, and found that the gel combination resulted in “250 hours of cooling”, or roughly 10 days.

Grossman and his team say that the gel bi-layers could essentially help with keeping food or medicine cool, and drastically reduce electricity consumption in general.