Making silica aerogel at home. Ben writes –
I followed instructions in the silica TMOS recipe from http://www.aerogel.org and successfully produced some small pieces of aerogel in my home shop.
The two main difficulties are: 1. Getting TMOS or TEOS (the key chemical ingredient), and 2. Building a supercritical drying chamber. The components for the chamber can be bought from http://www.mcmaster.com or another source of industrial pipe fittings. You’ll also need a supply of liquid carbon dioxide. I used a 20-lbs cylinder, which I bought from a local welding store. Most of the cost is in the cylinder itself, since a refill costs only $20 to $30. You may find a welding supply shop that will rent the cylinder.
Getting the TMOS is difficult since chemical suppliers are generally unwilling to sell to individuals…