Aerogel is no longer a scientific side show – the strange super-material is finally finding some practical applications, and may wind up revolutionizing the insulation industry.
Aerogel is a semi-transparent manufactured material, with the lowest density of any known porous solid. First developed in the 1980’s, the substance is derived from a gel where the liquid component has been replaced with a gas, resulting in any incredibly durable material with extraordinarily low thermal conductivity.
This low conductivity (0.016 W/mK) makes the substance ideal for insulation purposes, but until now a viable market solution has yet to notably impact the building industry. Sto AG, a leading interior and exterior insulation company, is hoping to change that with its new StoTherm in Aevero line. Working in conjunction with Cabot Corporation, Sto combined aerogel with an innovative binding technology, allowing for humidity control with exceptional thermal insulating capability.
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The material is a mere 10-40mm thick but performs better than many of the bulkier, fiberglass solutions currently dominating the market. Sto hopes that the efficiency coupled with the sleek design will attract space and enviro-conscious builders to the product, as less room is needed for more energy savings.
Cabot Corporation, based in Boston, MA, is a global company with a range of specialty chemical products. The corporation began producing aerogel in its new German plant in 2003.