100 Nano-Stories: How Valuable Is Aerogel? 💰

Episode #20: Cost, Market, And More!

Carlos Manuel Jarquín Sánchez
4 min readJan 31, 2021

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Preface

We have talked about aerogel is created, manufactured, and even its long-lost twin, Starlite! But we have never touched upon how valuable it is to society in the present and the future!

But, Carlos, if it is that valuable, then why can’t I fill up my closet with aerogels?

However, aerogel may be very expensive to make, let alone manufacture at a large scale for the public to ask on demand. This is one problem that delays the production of aerogels. We have talked about this before.

But the problem that we want to tackle is where can aerogel replace other materials in the current industries that exist today.

Got you, Carlos! Let’s hear it!

How Much is Aerogel Worth?

In the industries regarding construction, transportation, oil, insulation, etc., are beginning to consider & seek lighter, thinner, and better-insulating materials. This is where aerogel comes into play! 🤩

According to The Global Aerogel Market in 2018, the value of Aerogel was worth $692.1 million (USD), but because we require better thermal insulators and lighter materials, the value of Aerogel has skyrocketed!

How much is it worth now or in the future, Carlos?

By the time we reach the year 2026, it is estimated to reach a value of $2.96 billion (USD)! $2.96 billion by 2026!

Photo by Know Your Meme.com

Now for the industries currently here on Earth, the applications of aerogel vary from industry to industry, but this is how they can increase the value of aerogel!

So today, let’s talk about how aerogel can disrupt the airplane industry!

Aerogel + Airplanes = ✨

Airplanes are big. Like really big. But with all that weight, there is cost. So airplanes have to make sure they are carrying unnecessary weight in the airplane, otherwise, that is hundreds of dollars wasted & more oil/fuel for the airplane.

Emirates A380 Plane! Photo by CNN.

What aerogels can do to solve this problem of wasted money & fuel is to make most of the compartments/materials in the airplane lighter, from the seats to the overhead compartments to the desks!

Aerogels can solve these problems because they can withstand burns over to almost half the temperature of the surface of the Sun (5500° C)!

Additionally, it is about 99.8% air by volume, and the overall density of aerogel is about 0.02 grams per cubic centimeter to 0.1 grams per cubic centimeter! This is much better than plastics since their density is around 1.26 grams per cubic centimeter!

If we were to use an Emirates A380, the maximum zero fuel weight would be 361,000kgs (795,869lbs)! Now, if we were to replace all the windows, seats, overhead compartments with classic silica aerogel, the weight would go down by about 10–15%! Now, with about 117 Emirates A380’s, if we could reduce the cost of the airplanes, the fuel would go down, therefore, the cost will go down to about $500 million a year!

But there is one slight problem with this. . .

Aerogels Are Weak!

Photo by Know Your Meme.com

We have talked about this before, but aerogels are brittle because of their porosity, OH Groups, and pore size distribution. Secondly, certain aerogels are hydrophilic, which means that if they come into contact with water, they will shrivel up, and the silica network of nanopores will collapse into xerogel!

However, there is a solution to this problem! Time to introduce a new breed of aerogels to “100 Nano-Stories”. . .

Polymer Aerogels!

Photo by New Atlas!

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© 2021 by Carlos Manuel Jarquin Sanchez. All Rights Reserved.

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