The aerogel market is dominated by silica-based materials; IDTechEx Research calculate this to be over 98% in 2019 by revenue. However, after long research and development periods, polymer aerogels companies are set to establish significant capacities and deliver market success in the medium to long term with the market forecast to exceed $85m by 2029 in the updated IDTechEx Research report Aerogel 2019-2029: Technologies, Markets and Players
. More information can be seen on the web page, including a full table of contents and downloadable sample pages: www.IDTechEx.com/aerogel
Silica aerogel have had a complex commercial history and despite reaching market maturity in certain sectors it is still not an overly successful industry. The main challenges for this industry have been in the manufacturing process, material feedstocks, material durability, and market drivers. The monolithic form is exceptionally fragile, which has resulted in the majority being used with fiber reinforced composites (IDTechEx calculates this to be 85% of the silica aerogel market). These challenges, and how they are being tackled, was outlined in a previous article
Polymer aerogels, unlike their silica counterparts, are mechanically robust when made in a monolithic form. They lose some of the advantages that silica provides, such as transparency and exceptionally low thermal conductivity but offer an excellent blend of properties that typically combine low thermal conductivity, energy absorption, non-flammable, and low density. Polymer aerogels are typically made as a panel or thin film, either using supercritical or ambient pressure drying methods, and a wide variety of polymers are being explored including polyimides, polyurethanes, polyureas, polyamides and more.
The main polymer aerogel players and their brands are outlined in the associated image. It is important to note that each has been in R&D for a long period and, as can be seen, will be reaching notable production volumes in the next 1-2 years. IDTechEx, therefore, expects a turning point at 2024 when the opportunities associated with these materials will reach fruition. The report provides detailed analysis of the complete industry including full profiles of all the main inorganic and organic aerogel manufacturers.
These expansions are not without reason. The industry has seen significant interest from the likes of Airbus
, Lockheed Martin
and more are all of whom are involved with projects surrounding these materials. The main markets are forecast to be in building and construction, defense, transportation interiors, electronic substrates, and antennas.
Top image source: Blueshift Materials