Aerogel Core Ltd is a new company developed from the Innovate UK ICURe Programme (Innovation-to-Commercialisation of University Research) with the support of Research and Innovation Services (RIS) at the University of Bath. The team researched ultra-light aerogel materials capable of cutting CO2 emissions of aircraft and other vehicles and ultimately developed graphene-based aerogels to be used for soundproofing and heat shielding.
The team created a process to use graphene to produce aerogels that retain their shape and strength without the gel structure collapsing. The environmentally friendly aerogels are synthetic and porous and can be used to replace the liquid component normally used in gels with gas.
The gels also provide thermal, fire, and electromagnetic interference shielding and create excellent acoustic properties for a low-density material, which may have applications in industrial sectors beyond transportation.
“Our initial calculations for a 280 aircraft fleet, like that of British Airways, would see an estimated 30-90 metric tonne reduction in CO2 emissions per year by using our material, due to reducing the weight of similar materials by up to 50%,” Gian-Piero Malfense Fierro, research fellow at the University of Bath’s Department of Mechanical Engineering explained. “This is ground-breaking for the aerospace industry. We look forward to commercializing the technology and proving the scalability of our manufacturing process.”
Professor Michele Meo also from the University of Bath’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, added, “The funding we have received from Innovate UK proves that our research is not just theoretical or done in the lab but has real-world application and, most importantly, contributes to society. Having spun out we now intend to reach other markets, such as the automotive, marine, and acoustic insulation, further supporting government targets of building back greener.”
The next steps for the research team include further material development and proving the scalability of the technology through automation of the manufacturing process.