Aerogels have been in existence for more than 80 years. Invented in 1931 by Dr. Samuel Kistler at the College of the Pacific in California, aerogel is a lightweight silica solid derived from gel in which the liquid component of the gel has been replaced with gas. When the liquid is removed, what remains is “puffed-up sand," with up to 99% porosity. The result is an extremely low density solid with several remarkable properties, most notably its effectiveness as a thermal insulator. Aerogels also have value in emerging applications such as energy storage, filtration and carbon capture.
The silica solids in aerogels are poor conductors, consist of very small, three-dimensional, intertwined clusters that comprise only 3% of the volume. Conduction through the solid is therefore very low. The remaining 97% of the volume of aerogels is composed of air in extremely small nanopores. The air has little room to move, inhibiting both convection and gas-phase conduction.
These characteristics make aerogels the world’s lowest density solid and most effective thermal insulator. After many decades as a laboratory curiosity, Aspen Aerogels has successfully commercialized a technically and economically viable form of aerogel for industrial and building insulation uses. These developments represent the first application of our Aerogel Technology Platform based on silica aerogels.
About Aerogel Insulation
Aspen Aerogels offers high performance aerogel insulation blankets for both hot and cold service applications. Our Pyrogel®, Cryogel® and Spaceloft® aerogel blanket insulation products have been widely used in industrial and building insulation markets for more than 10 years. Our unique patented process integrates aerogel into a fiber-batting reinforcement to create flexible, resilient and durable aerogel blankets with superior insulating properties.
The aerogel part of our high performance insulation blankets is comprised of synthetic amorphous silica (SAS). The other major ingredient in our products is a non-woven, needled batting comprised of either E-glass fibers or a blend of polyester (PET) fibers and E-glass fibers.
Synthetic amorphous silica has been produced for more than 100 years for a variety of uses (adsorbents, fillers, anti-caking agents) and consumer products (toothpaste, cosmetics, food, animal feed). The US EPA recently listed synthetic amorphous silica as a chemical on the Safer Chemical Ingredient List, part of the Safer Choice program. The Safer Chemical Ingredients List (SCIL) is a list of chemical ingredients that the Safer Choice Program has evaluated and determined to be safer than traditional chemical ingredients.
WORKING WITH PYROGEL®, CRYOGEL® & SPACELOFT®
Synthetic amorphous silica is oleophilic, so it readily absorbs the oils from your skin. This characteristic is why synthetic amorphous silica is used in cosmetics as an anti-sheen agent. For worker comfort when working with Pyrogel®, Cryogel® or Spaceloft® aerogel blanket insulation, we recommend safety eyewear, work gloves, long sleeves, and long-legged work clothes. Respiratory protection is recommended if dust exposures exceed occupational exposure limits. Aerogel dust is easily washed from the skin and clothing using soap and water.
For more detailed information, please refer to our Safety Datasheets (SDS) or Article Information Sheets (AIS).