The properties of silica aerogels are highly dependent on the post-treatment steps like gel washing, gel aging and gel drying. The experimental results of the studies on one of the post-treatment steps i.e. gel aging effect on the physical and microstructural properties of methyltrimethoxysilane (MTMS) based silica aerogels, are reported. These hybrid aerogels were prepared by two step sol–gel process followed by supercritical drying. The molar ratio of MeOH/MTMS (M) was varied from 7 to 35 by keeping the H2O/MTMS (W) molar ratio constant at 4. The as prepared alcogels of different molar ratios were aged from 0 to 5 days. It was observed that 2 days of gel aging period is the optimum gel aging period for good quality aerogels in terms of low density, less volume shrinkage and high porosity. The well tailored network matrix with low density (0.04 g/cm3), less volume shrinkage (4.5%), low thermal conductivity (0.05 W/mK) and high porosity (98.84 %) was obtained for 2 days of gel aging period of M = 35. Further, the gelation time varied from 8 to 1 h depending on the M values. The gelation time was being more for lesser M values. The aerogels were characterized by bulk density, porosity, volume shrinkage, thermal conductivity, Scanning Electron Microscopy and the Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy.
Silica aerogels Aging process Sol–gel reactions Thermal conductivity Scanning Electron Microscopy