Aerogels are increasingly used in all sorts of industries ranging from aerospace, electronics, transport and automotive, and more as they offer a number of advantages over its traditional counterparts. The market faces challenges including the high production cost and low supply chain visibility. However opportunities exist such as improved product penetration in the growing markets, development of new ceramics-based aerogels and targeted marketing strategies is expected to aid in accelerating growth.
These advantages include light weight, shape memory properties and excellent mechanical properties. These mechanical properties include abrasiveness, resilience and elasticity. Furthermore, aerogels are cost effective as they are environmentally friendly. These benefits have made these aerogel composites a popular choice for all kinds of industries in automotive, aerospace and electronics to name a few. Moreover, aerogels are also used in the food packaging industry because they trap oxygen and moisture inside the packaging while having excellent barrier properties against the ingress of gases and microorganisms which causes food spoilage.
The market for aerogel composites is experiencing a resurgence due to the increasing awareness of its unique properties among end users. As such, it is gradually gaining traction and demand. The market faces challenges such as high production cost and low supply chain visibility but opportunities exist in terms of improving penetration in the growing markets and development of new ceramics based aerogels. Furthermore, research & development and innovation into applications in the consumer goods sector could open up new opportunities for manufacturers of aerogel composites.
Aerogels are the lightest, least dense solids known to man. Despite their delicate textures, they are also one of the most durable materials on Earth. Aerogels are used as insulation material for high-performance buildings or even spacesuits on Mars missions.
Aerogel is a synthetic porous solid made from polymers of liquid volumes or metal oxide gels or colloidal solutions. These are generally considered as a supercooled liquid or gel, which has been transformed into a solid by drying or polymerization. The most important structural feature of aerogels is the low density which makes them have high surface area to volume ratio and they are very porous. Aerogels have extremely low densities, ranging from 0.0006–0.01 g/cm for solid aerogels to up to 0.0001 g/cm for gaseous ones.
Aerogels are a type of non-Newtonian material (that is, they have low elasticity and high viscosity) with large internal pore sizes. The large interconnectivity gives aerogels their natural resistance to compression, which is also why they are usually brittle. Aerogel's elasticity, however, allows them to be strong and flexible in some ways.
Aerogels' main properties stem from their low density along with its large pore size which entails high internal surface area to volume ratio. An aerogel's structure consists of tetrahedra surrounded by oxygen atoms and joined together by covalent bonds. This gives aerogels a very high surface area to volume ratio, which means they have incredible ability to retain gases.
Aerogels' low density gives them lightness and an extremely high porosity. The porous nature of the aerogel also allows them to be highly hydrophilic and amphiphilic. With these properties, aerogels are ideal for many applications such as a desiccant or an adsorbent where moisture must be removed from a space or surface.
Aerogels' surface area to volume ratio is due to their pore size and geometry, which makes them good materials for adsorption, catalysis, chemical reactions, and absorption of gases among other things.