Aerogels are a class of ultralow density, nanoporous solid foams with impressive insulating capabilities, strength-to-weight ratios, and many other amazing materials properties, not to mention a striking ethereal appearance.
Learn more about aerogels at Aerogel.org.
Our aerogels start their lives as wet gels physically similar to edible gelatin. The chemistry used to synthesize these gels depends on the type of aerogel we’re making. For our silica aerogels, we form the gels through the sol-gel process using silicon alkoxides. After setting, the gels are soaked in an organic solvent to remove excess water from the gels. Next, the gels are placed in a high-pressure autoclave and soaked in liquid carbon dioxide until most of the organic solvent has been displaced by carbon dioxide. Finally, the vessel is heated past the critical point of carbon dioxide and isothermally depressurized to remove the carbon dioxide from the pores of the gels without causing capillary collapse of the gels. The result is the isolation of the low-density, solid, nanoporous structure of the original wet gels from their liquid medium, leaving an aerogel. Once the vessel has been depressurized to ambient pressure, it can be opened and the aerogels removed.
Monolithic aerogels and Airloys™ are manufactured autofactured by Aerogel Technologies (us). Granules/particles and Thermal Wrap™ blankets come from Cabot Aerogel. Spaceloft®, Cryogel®, and Pyrogel® blankets come from Aspen Aerogels.
Yes you can! Find out how under the Make section of Aerogel.org.
Actually, aerogels themselves aren’t intrinsically expensive, it’s just that monolithic (solid-block) aerogels aren’t made on a large industrial scale yet and so they’re not as cheap as other materials. That said, Aspen Aerogels makes aerogel composite blankets for thermal insulation on an industrial scale and is positioned to displace other forms of insulation in the next decade. Cabot Corporation makes translucent silica aerogel granules for daylighting and thermal insulating applications in huge quantities at low cost as well.
So, depending on what you’re looking for, no, aerogels are not necessarily expensive.
Aerogels are a diverse class of materials and, as such, the toxicity of a particular type of aerogel depends largely on what it is composed of. Monolithic aerogels of the type sold here on BuyAerogel.com are safe to handle and work with, although if you intend on breaking, crumbling, or attempting to machine them, you should avoid inhaling nuisance particles by wearing a breathing mask.
The aerogels we sell have high strength-to-weight ratios like other aerogels, however they have not been specially modified to improve their resistance to fracture and break easily so they should be handled carefully.
In the future look for mechanically robust xaerogel monoliths on BuyAerogel.com.
Sorry, aerogels, like other materials, do break if not handled properly and we cannot replace broken monoliths.
We make every effort to package our aerogel monoliths so that they arrive at your address in tact, however from time to time aerogels may break in shipping. You may purchase shipping insurance at the time of check out if this is a concern (for example, if you’re buying a large disc as a show piece). Otherwise, we unfortunately cannot replace broken monoliths.
Not really. You can always try, but in general aerogels that have not been specially strengthened are friable (that is, they tend to fracture and cleave into chunklettes). It is possible to machine friable aerogels using a high-speed vibrating needle, but this is a special tool that you’d probably have to build yourself.
We’d sure love to but at this time we can’t. That said, our smaller aerogel discs are inexpensive and should be affordable for most projects.
No problem – just select “Express” shipping at check-out. Keep in mind next-day orders are limited to what’s in stock and may take up to a day to process on top of shipping.
You can always contact us if you have a super urgent deadline and we’ll be happy to do what we can to help!
Yes. See our shipping policies page for more information.
Possibly. Depending on your needs we can make discs up to 3.5″ in diameter and rods up to 12″ long. Specialty parts are priced on a case-by-case basis so contact us if you need a special shape.
Yes, on a special case basis. Contact us for more information. Note that these materials are significantly more expensive than silica or metal oxide aerogels.
Not our department. Try contacting Aspen Aerogels or one of their distributors.
We offer bulk discounts based on what product you need, how many you need and how fast you need them. Please contact us with your request so that we can provide a quote.
As we continue to receive questions from you, we’ll post answers here. Feel free to contact us with additional questions you may have, ideas for new products you’d like to see, and what you are using aerogels for.