Aerogel Insulation: A Space-Age Blanket for Your Home

Going green — By Stephanie on February 3, 2010 at 6:13 am
nano Aerogel Insulation: A Space Age Blanket for Your Home

Rolls of Aerogel insulation (image credit: Kanellos, 2005)

When you’re cold, you wrap a blanket around your shoulders.  What if there was a blanket for your home?  With high-tech material that’s been around for years and used in space missions, Aerogel insulation is a lightweight, eco-friendly material that is now used to make buildings more energy efficient.

The air-filled aerogel insulating blankets, manufactured and sold by Aspen Aerogels, have already been installed in both the UK and some areas of the United States, ranging from residential to industrial buildings.  Its web site claims:

“Aerogels provides thermal management and energy conservation insulation solutions for a variety of industries. Our insulation products are up to eight times more effective than traditional insulation materials.”

tube1 full1 300x199 Aerogel Insulation: A Space Age Blanket for Your Home

Aerogels 1/3 the size and weight of fiberglass insulation

Compared to traditional fiberglass materials, Aerogels are only 1/3 the size and weight!  The nanomaterial is made by removing liquid components from gels to the point that the result is more than 90% air (cool fact: the Guinness Book of World Records has crowned it the lightest solid on earth).

Because it is difficult for heat to pass through the porous structure, aerogels make excellent light-weight insulators.  In addition, Aerogels is a particularly green insulation given that its millions of tiny pores absorb and remove pollutants from indoor air.

Aspen Aeorgels sells its Spaceloft blankets which boast 2-4 times the insulating value per square inch of traditional insulation materials.  Other benefits include that they are water- and fire- resistant and are easy to work with.  Simply peel and stick, or use staples to add strips of the material onto a building’s framing, inside or outside, prior to sheathing.  They can also be customized to fit on hard to insulate areas, including headers, rim joists, corners, rafters, and window flashing.

In addition to Aspen Aerogels, Cabot has also developed its Nanogel insulator for buildings.  ThermaBlok, too, had its insulation used in demonstration houses built during last year’s Solar Decathlon home competition.

Before you run out to your local hardware store looking for aerogel-based insulation, however, be aware that the costs have not yet fallen to the level of fiberglass, foam or cellulose insulation.  But in the coming months, we’ll be seeing more aerogel companies selling the thin blankets, and builders incorporating the material into new construction and retrofits.  Plus, energy tax credits are available for the installations, which will further lower costs, not to mention the savings you’ll reap each year in heating and cooling bills.

Can you be too thin, or too green when it comes to insulating materials? I’d say the answer is NO!

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4 Comments

  1. Tara says:

    Wow, what an amazing invention. I’ve actually never heard of these before. 2-4 times the insulating value at only 1/3 of the weight and size…that only has to save money. :)

  2. Stephanie says:

    Cool stuff, isn’t it? I like how they used the aerogel insulation at the Solar Decathlon, too! :)

  3. hannah zhang says:

    wow, it does be a cool stuff. And our company also could make the aerogels insulation blankets, which is much more competitive in pricing. Welcome to ask for more information.

  4. Dick Ovens says:

    Clothing too, for extreme cold weather in boots, hats gloves/mittons, sleeping bags, blankets; as well at to keep out heat in hot climates. My attic in summer is above 130 degrees in sun. For refrig and freezer, coolers, car interiors. Bring prices down and help us use far less fuel in our homes.

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