A New & Exciting Low Density Material for Industry
they are excellent thermal insulators. fishing floats due to its low density and impermeability. Finally. Various polymers can modify AeroClay’s® thermal and acoustic insulation properties.
Some natural products exhibit low density.Introduction
Lightweight substances are used in many industries. AeroClay®. Certain polymers. The material that remains after drying is extremely porous. they are frequently used as packaging materials. fire-resistant.
Low Density Materials
Lightweight materials have applications ranging from packaging to thermal and acoustic insulation.
Traditional Polymer Foams
Foams are an important category of lightweight materials. These can be natural materials. water. and new applications are continuously being explored. is a material that is produced from clay. and microcellular foam seals. When the production process is changed.
Metal Oxide Aerogels
Aerogels are extremely low-density solids that are created by removing a liquid from a wet gel. or the recently commercialized aerogel products. Due to their low density and trapped gas pockets. and cushioning. This mixture is then freeze-dried to create a low-density substance known as AeroClay®. including naturally-occurring products. and in foam cups. such as cork and balsa wood. the properties of AeroClay® can be altered for different applications or for cost optimization. foams such as expanded polystyrene. and because they are compressible. such as polystyrene. thermal insulator. Polyurethane foams are found in high resiliency flexible foam seating such as that found in automobile seats. These pores can be as small as
. its absorptive properties. All of these materials offer advantages and disadvantages and are preferred for different applications. foams. vibration dampening. light material with high strength and is frequently used in model building. elastic material derived from cork oak trees and has applications in bottle stoppers due to its impermeability and compressibility. polyethylene. balsa can be laminated between plastic sheets or fiberglass for use in surfboards and boats. Because of these properties. a clay-based aerogel. and polyurethane can be used to create foams. AeroClay®’s patented manufacturing technology serves as a platform for constant innovation. Balsa wood is well-known as a soft. and polymers. These polymers are usually made from petroleumbased feed stocks. and floor tiles because of its insulative properties. Blowing agents are used to expand the polymer into a foam and are typically volatile organic compounds that evaporate after the foam is created. Expanded polystyrene is frequently used as a packing material. rigid foam insulation panels. and its mechanical strength. Cork is an impermeable. and aerogels. polyethylene foam is used in packaging applications that require shock absorption.
The liquid cannot simply be evaporated from the gel because the expansion of the liquid into a gas would crush the pores of the gel. and the manufacturing process is complete. The blue arrow demonstrates normal evaporation: a liquid evaporates by an increase in temperature or a decrease in pressure. Silica aerogels are typically made using three steps. the temperature is decreased to freeze the liquid into a solid. chemical catalysts and sound barriers. the liquid must be removed by supercritical drying or freeze drying. and the solid sublimes directly into a gas. including thermal insulation. the liquid is replaced with air. as shown in Figure 1 below. but the liquid has been removed. chemicals are dissolved or reacted in a liquid to create a sol. Supercritical drying is frequently used in dry cleaning and the production of pharmaceuticals.
. Instead. the gel is placed into a special chamber where temperature of the liquid is increased while the pressure is increased to turn the liquid into a supercritical fluid.
Figure 1: Aerogel manufacturing process
Two different techniques can be used to turn the sol into aerogel. and is used in producing silica aerogels. Then. The gel is placed into a freeze dryer. the sol is turned into a gel by cross-linking the chemical molecules into an interconnected network. These properties make aerogels optimal materials in a wide variety of applications. In supercritical drying. as shown by the red arrow in Figure 2. the temperature is decreased to transform the supercritical fluid into a gas. First. leaving an aerogel behind. The aerogel is returned to room temperature.1 In the first step. The chamber is then depressurized and the aerogel manufacturing process is complete. Next.nanometers in diameter and have extremely high surface areas. Then. This aerogel has a structure identical to that of the gel. Figure 2 below is a phase diagram that shows the three methods that can be used to turn a liquid into a gas. Freeze drying is another method that can be used to manufacture aerogels. Finally. the pressure is decreased. The purple arrow illustrates supercritical drying. Freeze drying avoids the surface tension associated with transforming a liquid directly into a gas.
melamine-formaldehyde. polyurethanes. Different materials make the aerogel better suited for specific applications ranging from lightweight materials with applications in space vehicles. aerogels can have a wide variety of properties. native silica aerogels are generally fragile and can be easily crushed. Aerogels can be made from alumina. which can enhance certain properties of the aerogel.2 The most commonly used material in aerogels is silica. and polyisocyanurates. can also be used to manufacture aerogels. evaporation in blue and supercritical drying in purple
Aerogels can be made from many different organic and inorganic materials. in structural applications. such as clays. However. and chemical sensors. which has low thermal conductivity. Depending on the starting materials used. clay is dispersed in water. they are typically combined with fibers or polymers to form a composite material that can withstand larger forces. These pores also dampen noise because sound waves are forced through multiple air pockets and the walls around them.
AeroClay® was discovered when clay was used to create an aerogel in a process very similar to that described above. comet dust collection systems. and freeze dried. Generally.It is frequently used in the production of vaccines and food preservation to remove water and increase shelf -life. First. Like many traditional aerogels. which gives the aerogel outstanding insulative properties and allows it to absorb infrared radiation. it is poured into a mold. catalyst support systems.
Figure 2: Phase diagram showing freeze drying in red. Other materials.
. However. carbon. Each material has properties suited to specific applications. Thus. resorcinol-formaldehyde. AeroClay® began as a very delicate material that was easily broken. aerogels are excellent thermal insulators because of the air trapped in their pores. the resulting material is extremely fragile and has the consistency of a cotton ball. polyimides. Then.
These polymers make the final AeroClay® product robust and sturdy.
Figure 3. Various polymers can be added to AeroClay® to impart it with different properties. The air trapped between the clay layers makes the AeroClay® lightweight and a thermal insulator. leaving a lightweight. The overall manufacturing process is shown below in Figure 3. the polymers improve AeroClay’s® structural properties. the structure and composition of several AeroClay® products allows them to spring back to their original shapes after being
Figure 4: AeroClay® final product
. polymer. In general. The composite is freezedried. the clay is mixed with polymers after it is dispersed in water. AeroClay® manufacturing process
Properties of AeroClay®
AeroClay® has lower densities than some polymer foams because of its open structure. This structure is formed when the water is frozen into ice and the ice excludes the impurities (clay. The structure of layers is visible in many AeroClay® composites. making it tough enough to withstand more force than a typical silica aerogel. etc.To improve the final product. tough material with insulating properties similar to those of foamed polymers. the layers which were formed between the ice crystals are left behind creating the self supporting porous structure.) from the crystal. When the water is removed. Additionally.
and water. absorptive properties. which. unlike the silica aerogels which produce many pounds of VOCs per pound of product. then require chemical crosslinking with potentially toxic agents in order to insure acceptable mechanical
. create a low density material that can withstand corrosive and high temperature environments. AeroClay® is much more robust than traditional native silica aerogels because it is reinforced with polymers. lightweight materials tend to be good packaging materials as well as thermal and acoustic insulators. from mechanical properties to fire resistance.compressed. The amino acids found in casein provide exceptional strength through hydrogen bonding to the clay. it can be easily formed into a wide variety of shapes. it is considered environmentally benign. using environmentally benign materials. insulative properties. Aeroclay®’s properties can be customized to meet a variety of customer needs. Casein is a naturally-occurring polymer found in waste streams from dairy products that can also improve the mechanical properties of AeroClay®. AeroClay® is a thermal insulator. Like silica aerogels. However. which improves the mechanical rigidity of AeroClay®. flexibility. Nearly any polymer could be combined with Figure 5: AeroClay can be AeroClay® to produce a material that is tailored to suit extremely strong and robust. and thermal-resistant properties. clay. Since AeroClay® is made using only polymers.
Comparing AeroClay® and other low density materials
AeroClay® is similar to other lightweight materials in some aspects. AeroClay® is also produced using an environmentally-benign process whose only effluent is water vapor. Because of the simple manufacturing process used in making AeroClay®. increasing the durability of AeroClay®. when combined with the lightweight structure of the AeroClay®. In general. specific applications. These polymers allow AeroClay® to be tailored to improve its performance in a wide array of applications. chemical. This is only a short list of the polymers that can be added to AeroClay®. Polymers like poly(vinyl alcohol) and casein are reported to be biodegradable.
Optimizing AeroClay®’s Properties
A wide assortment of polymers can be used to improve AeroClay’s® mechanical properties. and more. One of these materials is polyvinyl alcohol. AeroClay® and polymer foams are well-suited for packaging because they can be manufactured into a variety of shapes and can spring back to their original shape when compressed. Poly(amide-imides) have exceptional mechanical.
whether they are thermal. such as medicines. to create new types of structures. It traps heat and could provide insulation in applications ranging from undersea piping to refrigerated trucks and insulated containers in rail and shipping. and compression. AeroClay® can be molded into any shape from pellets to sheets to molded forms.
Due to the micropores incorporated into AeroClay®. Its structure suggests that it may also dampen noise. That process can be modified to include different starting materials. or mechanical. vaccines. Platform technologies can range from the internet to methods for delivering drugs to new materials.
A platform technology enables the creation of products and processes that supports the development of future products and services.
. AeroClay® also provides a flameresistant barrier. AeroClay® has insulative properties that make it well-suited for providing packaging for temperature-sensitive materials.properties. AeroClay® has a wide range of potential applications. ceiling tiles. which would make AeroClay® useful in sound barriers. Additionally. such as different types of clays. and only a fraction of the potential applications and modifications are discussed in this article. it makes a good thermal insulator. a platform technology is created to be built from and is used as a base for creating other new technologies.
As a platform technology. or as a replacement material for drywall. It evolved from the simple process of freeze drying clay to create clay aerogels. absorptive. AeroClay® is an example of a platform technology. Those materials can be altered by the addition of different polymers to change the material’s properties. AeroClay® is a new type of lightweight material and has properties can be tailored to meet specific customer needs. Because of the flexible manufacturing process used to create AeroClay®. Future research and development will yield more variations that make AeroClay® right for many additional applications. Environmentally benign AeroClay® can replace materials such as expanded polystyrene and polyurethane foams. In these applications. it can be formed into custom-tailored packaging that meets a product’s specific shape while preventing shock. This is just the beginning of the development of AeroClay® technology. or electronic equipment. That is to say. Just a few are discussed here:
Initial testing suggests that AeroClay® is an excellent material for physical protection in packaging. vibration.
Our products provide significant value by improving energy efficiencies and providing other unique characteristics to our customers. AeroClay® can also be modified to absorb oil but not water. is a start-up company dedicated to commercializing an advanced material aerogel technology developed by David Schiraldi. such as packaging. is a unique material produced by mixing clay. Inc. and electrical insulation. Because the AeroClay® manufacturing process can be easily modified to include different types of clays. Ohio. By changing those parameters. Future applications may include catalyst platforms. Our products are monitored continuously throughout the entire manufacturing process to ensure that the end products are not only of the highest quality. Aeroclay. a clay-based aerogel. then freeze drying that material to create a lightweight substance. we are in the process of
. The captured oil can also be recovered from AeroClay®. Different types of AeroClay® can be used in many applications. it can act as a sponge and absorb water-based liquids. Our pilot-sized freeze drying equipment enables us to manufacture samples and prototypes as well as serve customers that require smaller batches of products. thermal insulation. The company is exploring additional applications that take advantage of AeroClay’s® unique properties to better meet its customers’ needs. polymers. and acoustic insulation. water. including natural products. is dedicated to creating the perfect innovative. sound barriers to packaging. Inc. but also that they are uniform and meet specifications. AeroClay. Inc.
From insulation to absorption.
About Aeroclay. Prototypes and light production are accomplished through our proven processes. This version of AeroClay® can be used as kitty litter or as a spill cleanup substance in industrial or consumer products. high-performance material that meets your business’s needs. PhD and his research group at Case Western Reserve University of Cleveland.Absorption
When different polymers are incorporated into AeroClay®. The full-time staff of the company includes industry veterans with financial and manufacturing backgrounds and is supported by university resources as needed. These applications illustrate just a sample of AeroClay’s® potential uses. drug delivery platforms. Aeroclay. and aerogels are important throughout a wide range of industries. allowing our customers to get products to market more quickly. Inc. We have established relationships with toll manufacturers throughout different industries. is continuing to evaluate new functions by leveraging the versatility of AeroClay’s® platform technology. and a polymer. AeroClay’s® properties can be modified. it is a platform technology. and formed into a variety of shapes. polymer foams.
Low density materials. AeroClay®. Toll manufacturing will help expedite production and marketing. Additionally.
pdf (accessed Aug 5. AeroClay® is a registered trademark of Aeroclay Inc. 2010)
. for its clay and polymer/clay aerogel products. What is Aerogel? http://www. Solon Ohio. References:
Aspen Aerogels.jpl. 2010)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration. This will help customers easily implement AeroClay® technology within their products.aerogel. Jet Propulsion Laboratory.gov/aerogel_factsheet. http://stardust..com/features/morphology.html (accessed Aug 5.nasa. California Institute of Technology: Aerogel: Mystifying Blue Smoke.developing a turnkey manufacturing solution for our customers.