The aerogel market has finally come of age
Dec 15, 2016 Dr Richard Collins
IDTechEx research analysis has shown that this industry, which is almost a century in the making, is finally coming of age. Major players are finding more nascent applications and new entries are progressing out of semi-commercial prototypes and into full market launches. IDTechEx have released their latest analysis of this diversifying and expanding industry in their brand new report, Aerogels 2017-2027: Technologies, Markets and Players.
Aerogel products are a class of highly porous lightweight materials made up of an interconnected nanostructural network. Although known since the 1930s, the aerogel industry has only progressed out of its infancy in the past decade, this comes in the wake of previous failed attempts from the closing decades of the 20th century.
There has been seemingly no limit to the hype and over-inflated proposed market infiltration surrounding the properties and proposed applications for this class of material. To date, the high price-tag has meant that the unique properties aerogels possess have only been valued by a few industries. The market leaders, Aspen Aerogel, have lost over $280 million across the past decade, which alongside others has in part enabled this market to finally come of age and allow for a more diverse profitable market to be on the cusp of emerging.
This report provides the most comprehensive and authoritative view of the global aerogel market, giving a detailed ten-year market forecasts segmented by application and both material type and form, including full company profiles based on IDTechEx's interview-based primary research. The research within this report values the market at present at just over $260 million and anticipates it to marginally exceed $1 billion by 2027 for the aerogel manufacturers. Pricing forecasts are provided for all different types and are predicted to undergo significant shifts as increased capacities and emerging manufacturing processes are anticipated.
The most prevalent type is silica aerogel with the key property being very high thermal insulation (λ = 15-25 mW/m.K). The commercial applications to date centre almost exclusively around silica composite panels and blankets for their use in thermal management. However, given the abundance and cost of traditional insulators manufacturers have been unable to justify the high price on the superior insulating properties alone. Instead, they have looked to the added value of the properties these materials possess be it fire retardancy, low density, hydrophobicity, strength or electrical/acoustic insulation.
Silica aerogel panels and blankets formed through adhesion to a variety of fibrous material in the gelation or post-synthesis will not be the only product to shape this industry over the next decade. There will be notable rises for both silica aerogel powder and granule particles as well as polymer aerogel products. The silica particles can be incorporated in a range of solid and liquid products post-synthesis, translating many of the properties from the pure form into traditional products.
Aerogel tree by type - demonstrating the range of types and form of aerogel products discussed in the brand-new report, 'Aerogels 2017-2027: Technologies, Markets and Players' (www.IDTechEx.com/aerogel). Source: IDTechEx Research
The report, Aerogels 2017-2027: Technologies, Markets and Players extensively compares and discusses batch and continuous manufacturing processes for both supercritical and ambient pressure drying techniques. This is with consideration to both established methods as well as emerging spin-out companies and university research. Many companies have nailed their colours to the mast developing the infrastructure, expertise and IP portfolio around specific techniques, but which will prove to be sustainable and ultimately the most competitive will be a key growth factor for this industry.