NIMS to Commercialize New Technology of Almost Air Material “Aerogel”

Aerogel” is a material that is light in weight and has high heat insulation, with most of its volume composed of air. The heat insulation of the airgel can be further improved, and the volume can be increased up to 10 times. The National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) has announced the following research results. Commercialization using NIMS’s venture support system is also expected in the future.

Airgel itself is a material developed in the 1930s and contains a lot of gas in the gaps between substances. In addition to being used as a material for space development due to its light weight, its high heat insulation is also attracting attention in the construction field. However, there are problems in its widespread use due to the manufacturing cost of substances and the limitation of the size that can be made as one mass (monolith).

NIMS researcher Wu Ladder is working on a hybrid airgel in which fine hollow particles made of silica are contained in an airgel made of silica. If carbon dioxide is put in the hollow, it will have the same heat insulation performance as a vacuum heat insulation panel. Mr. Wu put the hybrid airgel on the palm and showed the performance of hitting with a burner.

NIMS has also developed a method to increase the volume up to 10 times as another technology of airgel. Hybrid airgel is suitable for manufacturing vacuum insulation panels as a monolith, and volume-increasing technology is suitable for commercially available insulation materials.

Mr. Wu expects that the newly developed airgel will be useful for building materials for energy-saving houses and for transporting cryogenic substances. In addition to general heat insulating materials for energy-saving houses, airgel’s high infrared absorption rate and light-transmitting properties make it possible to take in light while blocking the heat of the sun by using it for windows. As for the transportation of cryogenic substances, it can be applied to heat-insulated containers for long-distance and long-term transportation of liquid hydrogen and heat-insulated containers for delivering the new corona vaccine to each region.

Taking advantage of NIMS’s venture support system, Mr. Wu wants to proceed with the construction of technology and factories for mass production of this airgel.

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