The sol-gel polymerization of a phenolic-furfural mixture in dilute solution leads to a highly cross-linked network that can be supercritically dried to form a high surface area foam. These porous materials have cell/pore sizes .ltoreq.1000 .ANG., and although they are dark brown in color, they can be classified as a new type of aerogel. The phenolic-furfural aerogel can be pyrolyzed in an inert atmosphere at 1050.degree. C. to produce carbon aerogels. This new aerogel may be used for thermal insulation, chromatographic packing, water filtration, ion-exchange, and carbon electrodes for energy storage devices, such as batteries and double-layer capacitors.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.