SBIR-STTR Award

Innovative Aerogel Production for Low-cost and High-R Insulation
Award last edited on: 1/5/2023

Sponsored Program
SBIR
Awarding Agency
DOE
Total Award Amount
$1,349,922
Award Phase
2
Solicitation Topic Code
C52-13b
Principal Investigator
Je Kyun Lee

Company Information

Optowares Incorporated

15 Presidential Way
Woburn, MA 01801
   (781) 465-2623
   info@optowares.com
   www.optowares.com
Location: Single
Congr. District: 05
County: Middlesex

Phase I

Contract Number: DE-SC0021909
Start Date: 6/28/2021    Completed: 3/27/2022
Phase I year
2021
Phase I Amount
$199,996
Aerogels is a solid with nanometer-sized pores that exhibits many unusual and useful properties including very high R-insulation. However, aerogels often are very brittle, require very expensive material feedstocks, and utilize complex and costly manufacturing processes. Therefore, DOE seeks innovative insulation with high-R insulation of an R-value/inch of 8 or greater (? thermal conductivity value of < 18 mW/m K) at a significant cost reduction of 3-5 times. Optowares proposes to develop poly-DCPD aerogel blankets using sol-gel processing, followed by ambient pressure drying through (i) modified “spring-back” method with the hydrophobic surface and solvent exchange step and (ii) chemically induced phase separation (CIPS) methods. Our proposed poly-DCPD aerogel blanket for sustainable insulation material must meet the cost target of 3-5 times compared to silica aerogel blankets and have an R-value/inch of 8 or greater at poly-DCPD aerogel blanket density of 0.112 and 0.138 g/cc, which translate to thermal conductivity values of

Phase II

Contract Number: DE-SC0021909
Start Date: 8/22/2022    Completed: 8/21/2024
Phase II year
2022
Phase II Amount
$1,149,926
Aerogel is a solid with nanometer-sized pores that exhibits many unusual and useful properties including lightweightness and high R-insulation value. However, the conventional aerogels often are very brittle and dusty, require very expensive material feedstocks, and utilize complex and costly manufacturing processes. The most expensive manufacturing step to prepare a silica aerogel is CO2-based supercritical drying, followed by the chemical aging for the addition of hydrophobic agents. DOE seeks innovative aerogel materials with high-R insulation of an R- value/inch of 8 or greater (? thermal conductivity value of ? 18 mW/m K) with at least 3?5 times cost reduction compared to silica aerogel by using readily available and scalable manufacturing processes and practical building insulation form factors. Optowares proposed to develop ambient pressure dried (AP-dried) polydicyclopentadiene (pDCPD) aerogel products via polymerizing an inexpensive and readily available dicyclopentadiene (DCPD) that costs 3-5 times less than the current silica aerogel feedstocks. Also, pDCPD aerogel samples with densities of 0.112 ? 0.138 g/cc previously showed high R-value of 6.9 ? 9.4. During Phase I, Optowares developed the first successful AP-dried pDCPD aerogel materials by using the combined principles of “spring- back” and “chemically induced phase separation (CIPS)” methods. Our developed AP-dried pDCPD aerogels can be prepared by significant cost reductions of about 3-5 times compared to current silica aerogel. Moreover, our developed AP-dried pDCPD aerogels demonstrated good properties such as lightweightness with porosity of 80 ? 92 wt%, high R-insulation values of 5.8 ? 9.0, inherent hydrophobicity, high stiffness, less friable, and low dust. In Phase II, we will develop the new AP-dried pDCPD aerogel products and optimized formulation and processing method obtained in Phase I to provide suitable grades required in commercial applications. Also, in Phase II, since our new AP-dried pDCPD aerogels are transitioned to scale-up manufacturing production, we will produce composite samples of commercial insulation panel sizes. In phase III we will demonstrate the economic viability for commercial AP-dried pDCPD aerogel product manufacturing. In short, Optowares will produce the proposed AP-dried pDCPD aerogel products with lower cost and high R-insulation value that more popularly provide an alternative insulation material to the current silica aerogel blankets as well as conventional inorganic and organic foam-based thermal insulation materials.