—As Light As Air “After a fitful start, aerogel insulation is fulfilling its promise” In the late 1920s, Samuel Stephens Kistler invented an incredibly light and durable silica he called aerogel. It’s taken a good 80 years, but aerogel finally seems to be realizing its commercial potential. One sign was last month’s announcement that BASF, the world’s largest chemical maker, led a $21.5 million investment in Aspen Aerogels—one of only two companies to manufacture aerogel commercially. Two weeks later, Cabot Corp., the other producer, announced that aerogel sales in its recent fiscal year rose a heady 60% to $24 million. These achievements and others like them in the past couple of years mark a coming out of sorts for a material that had long failed to live up to its potential. “For many years, aerogel was considered a laboratory curiosity that was really neat but not very useful,” acknowledges Tom Miller, the strategic partnerships manager at Cabot Aerogel.
by Michael McCoy |
November 22, 2010