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Aerogel Cost and Manufacturability - Aerogel Applications

 

Aerogel Cost and Manufacturability

Aerogels have been around for quite a while, but only recently has technology enabled the innovative product to be produced commercially and cheaper than ever before. In the past, Aerogels production and manufacturing cost were way too much to produce commercially. Aspen Aerogels, Inc. has become a worldwide leader in producing and manufacturing this material thanks to their breakthrough in speeding up the solvent extraction process. By doing this, Aspen cut production costs and can now produce plentiful amounts AeroGel.

 

Aspen, based out of Massachusetts, has a 30,000 square foot manufacturing plant where the AeroGel is made. The company has an agreement with Burton Snowboards, who sells extreme weather apparel, to insulate their clothing with AeroGel. The Burton extreme weather jacket is made with Spaceloft AeroGel AR3103, the thickest in comparison with AR3101 and AR3102. AR3103 runs about $4 – 5 per square foot, depending on quantity. The Burton jacket insulated with AeroGel retails for $550, which is comparably more than their non-AeroGel insulated jacket, which retails for $280. AeroGel insulated jackets are still one of the most expensive on the market because its manufacturing process, though sped up and cheaper than ever, is still more expensive than other competitors. Also AeroGel technology is the best on the market, which raises the price. Furthermore, Aspen uses AeroGel to insulate Burton boots and gloves, designed to withstand extreme weather. The technology is such a breakthrough that NASA and the United States military is considering to use AeroGel in the new spacesuits and combat apparel. Another company based out of Italy named Corpo Nove also manufactures AeroGel insulated jackets, which are being distributed by the hip clothing brand, Hugo Boss.

 

In the past, energy costs were the main factor in keeping AeroGel from being produced commercially. Specifically what cost so much was the supercritical extraction process. This includes three factors which hurt a company’s production cost: 1, the supercritical extraction of methanol, 2, the heating of the autoclave steel, and 3, heat loss due to surroundings in manufacturing process. Also don’t forget about the costs of the specific materials used to make AeroGel including methanol, sodium silicate, resorcinol and more. Today the cost of the raw materials has decreased due to technological advances. To be specific, AeroGel costs, such as sodium silicate costs $0.63 per board foot and Resorcinol runs $1.34 per board foot.

Thanks to technological advances and ingenious engineer troubleshooting through the years, AeroGel has become a revolutionary product which can be produced commercially for consumers at a much lower cost than ever before.

 

References

  • www.aerogel.com
  • www.cae.wisc.edu/aerogel/aboutaerogel.html
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