GreenTech reported that some aerogel companies are offering thin blankets that serve as replacements for traditional fiberglass, foam or cellulose insulation. It’s still more expensive upfront but the costs have fallen to the point that it can make sense in certain cases, particularly masonry or curved walls. The video posted above shows aerogel insulation over bent tubing.
Aerogels are made by removing the liquid from gels, resulting in a material that is more than 90 percent air. The porous structure of the nanomaterial makes it difficult for heat to pass through. As a result, aerogels make very good and light-weight insulators.
Aspen Aerogels says that its aerogel blankets have two to four times the insulating value per inch compared to fiberglass or foam. It’s also relatively easy to work with, allows water vapor to pass through and is fire resistant.
Material company Cabot has also developed its Nanogel insulator for buildings. Another company, ThermaBlok, has had its insulation used in demonstration houses built during last year’s Solar Decathlon home competition.
Contractors have started using the material on superinsulated homes that are sealed from the outside, both over masonry and under shingles. On wood frame homes, thin strips of aerogel can be applied to studs to prevent what’s called thermal bridging, where heat escapes through the walls’ framing.
Aspen provides this chart for for the R-value-philes (Spaceloft being Aspen’s brand name for their building insulation aerogel):
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