What Is Aerogel?
According to aerogel.org, Aerogels are a diverse class of porous, solid materials that exhibit an uncanny array of extreme materials properties. Most notably aerogels are known for their extreme low densities (which range from 0.0011 to ~0.5 g cm-3). Silica aerogel is the most common type of aerogel, most frequently seen in photographs and what people generally refer to when using the word “aerogel” without an adjective in front (although there are many other types of aerogel). Silica aerogels have superinsulating properties as illustrated in this photo of aerogel insulating a delicate, moist flower from the raging heat of a Bunsen burner.
Essentially an aerogel is the dry, low-density, porous, solid framework of a gel (the part of a gel that gives the gel its solid-like cohesiveness) isolated in-tact from the gel’s liquid component (the part that makes up most of the volume of the gel). Aerogels are open-porous (that is, the gas in the aerogel is not trapped inside solid pockets) and have pores in the range of <1 to 100 nanometers (billionths of a meter) in diameter and usually <20 nm.
Aerogels are dry materials (unlike “regular” gels you might think of, which are usually wet like gelatin dessert). The word aerogel refers to the fact that aerogels are derived from gels–effectively the solid structure of a wet gel, only with a gas or vacuum in its pores instead of liquid
Why Are Aerogels Used In Insulation Blankets?
A major advantage to using silica aerogel as a thermal insulation material in our insulation blankets is enhanced energy efficiency, and in turn, reduced harmful emissions resulting from energy consumption and cheaper utility bills. Silica aerogels are best known for tremendously low thermal conductivity, which can take on values as low as 0.015 W m-1 K-1. That’s something like the equivalent insulating value of a stack of 30 panes of window glass compacted into a single inch (2.54 cm)!
Silica aerogel is also hydrophobic, so it repels water and prevents moisture from corroding & damaging the insulation blanket or the component being covered. This means it offers superior defense against CUI, or corrosion under insulation.
Which Aerogel Products Does Thermaxx Use In Our Insulation Blankets?
We are proud to use aerogel products from Aspen Aerogels® in our insulation blankets including Pyrogel® XTE for hot applications & Cryogel® Z for cryogenic applications. Aspen Aerogels products are used by leading global companies in key energy market segments including Refining, Petrochemical, LNG, Power, and Subsea.
Aspen’s aerogel insulation is up to five times more effective than traditional insulation materials, while being industrially robust across a broad temperature range in a space-saving, easy-to-use form, making it the most efficient industrial insulation on the market.