Silica based aerogel


Technology abstract

A Portuguese company is producing and commercializing aerogels for several applications in space, oil & gas, aeronautics, building and wastewater treatment. It is a solid with unusual properties, such as ultra-light and very low thermal conductivity due to its high porosity. It can resist large temperature ranges (-180ºC to 350ºC) and may be supplied in blocks, blankets or powder. 

Technology Description

Aerogels are prepared by sol-gel technology which the most known bottom-up approaches to prepare nanomaterials. Sol-gel technology allows preparing materials in different shapes from fibres, powders, and monoliths. Particularly, the silica based aerogels monoliths are extremely flexible.

The thermal conductivity of our aerogel is 39 mW m-1 K-1 and since this material does not have the glass transition temperature it can be applicable between -180oC to 350oC without any changes in its properties. Additionally, this aerogel is highly hydrophobic avoiding its degradation in contact with humid environments. This material can be applied for general thermal insulation, namely in space environments, buildings and pipelines. On the other hand, due to its high specific surface area they can be used as adsorbents for wastewater, oil, and others.
This Portuguese company is working on the aerogels development since 2005 mainly for space application such as Mars Rovers insulation. 

Innovations & Advantages

Aerogel combines low density, low thermal conductivity, hydrophobicity, flexibility and is suitable for temperatures from -180 to 350oC. The handling during installation does not cause skin irritation.

Further Information

Silica based aerogel – Physical properties:

  • Density: 80kg m-3
  • Density: 80kg m-3
  • Thermal conductivity: 32 mW m-1 K-1 (1atm 25oC), 12 mW m-1 K-1 (10 mbar 25oC)
  • Operation temperature: -180 to 350oC
  • Highly Hydrophobic
  • Extremely flexible
  • Available in monoliths, blanket and powder

Current and Potential Domains of Application

In space the aerogel can be used for thermal insulation on satellites, landers, rovers and launchers. In Oil & Gas the aerogels can be used for pipeline’s thermal insulator. Aerogel can be used for pollutants adsorption namely wastewater and oil spill. In aeronautics, the aerogel play an important role for its low density with outstanding thermal insulation performance.
Although knowing the high cost of aerogel for buildings it will become a potential solution in order to comply with new EU regulations on energy efficiency for buildings.