Tech Transfer eNews Blog

VCU start-up develops efficient, sustainable material for home insulation

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: September 20th, 2023

A start-up from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is commercializing a technology that could significantly improve the efficiency, safety, and sustainability of home insulation.

ThermaGEL Innovations has developed an insulation material composed of aerogels, which are porous solids made mostly of air. According to the start-up, the novel material improves heat resistance, or R-value, by 136% over fiberglass and other conventional materials. In addition, the aerogel material is thinner, lightweight, fireproof, moisture-proof and noise-reducing.

“Aerogels were invented nearly a century ago; however, the process to make them is complex and expensive — until VCU made a breakthrough discovery,” says Marc McConnaughey, president and CEO of ThermaGEL.

That discovery was the elimination of supercritical drying, an onerous step in current aerogel production that involves pumping carbon dioxide into a high-pressure reactor to form air membranes within the gel.

Using research from the lab of VCU physics professor Massimo Bertino, ThermaGEL has developed a novel method to produce aerogels using ambient pressure without the need for supercritical drying, making the process less expensive and more scalable.

“What VCU has achieved with aerogel production could have a significant, positive impact on the environment and support a more sustainable future,” says McConnaughey.

Brent Fagg, senior licensing manager at VCU TechTransfer and Ventures, comments, “This aerogel technology from Dr. Bertino has strong interest nationally, with broad versatility across a number of applications that require super-insulators. And aerogels are technology that meet the growing needs of a ‘green economy’ while improving safety and energy efficiency.”

Source: VCU News

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