With their low thermal conductivity (?), silica aerogels can reduce carbon emissions from heating and cooling demands, but their widespread adoption is limited by the high production cost. A one-pot synthesis for silica aerogel granulate is presented that drastically reduces solvent use, production time, and global warming potential. The inclusion of the hydrophobization agent prior to gelation with a post-gelation activation step, enables a complete production cycle of less than four hours at the lab scale for a solvent use close to the theoretical minimum, and limits the global warming potential. Importantly, the one-pot aerogel granulate retains the exceptional properties associated with silica aerogel, mostly ?=14.4±1.0mWm-1K-1 for the pilot scale materials, about half that of standing air (26mWm-1K-1). The resource-, time-, and cost-effective production will allow silica aerogels to break out of its niche into the mainstream building and industrial insulation markets.
- life-cycle assessment
- production technology
- silica aerogels
- thermal insulation
Huber, L., Zhao, S., Malfait, W. J., Vares, S., & Koebel, M. M. (2017). Fast and Minimal-Solvent Production of Superinsulating Silica Aerogel Granulate. Angewandte Chemie: International Edition, 56(17), 4753-4756. https://doi.org/10.1002/anie.201700836