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John O | April 2019

Researcher receives DOE funding for the development of aerogel insulation

By Josh Perry, Editor


Researchers at the University of Buffalo (N.Y.) received nearly $2 million in funding from a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant to develop an inexpensive, silica-aerogel-based insulating material that could be used to reduce home and business energy costs.


Members of the research team (from left to right): Chi Zhou, Shenqiang Ren, Mark Swihart and Donghui Zhao. (University of Buffalo)


Silica aerogels are synthetic gels with low thermal conductivity, according to a report from the school. Researchers believe that the material could be used in applications ranging from home construction to aerospace to clothing, but the cost of the material has limited its use.


“For most aerogels, there is a long and expensive supercritical drying process,” the article explained. Researchers “are developing a different, ambient-pressure drying approach. It’s simpler, quicker, less expensive and more eco-friendly because water is the main solvent instead of toxic chemicals.”


This grant funding is one of 19 projects that the DOE announced its support for last month. To learn more about DOE projects, visit https://www.energy.gov/eere/office-energy-efficiency-renewable-energy.

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