Recovery Act - High-Temperature Industrial Insulation Utilizing Aerogels
Small Business Information
Touchstone Research Laboratory, Ltd.
The Millennium Centre, 1142 Middle Creek Road, Triadelphia, WV, 26059
AbstractIndustrial high-temperature furnace insulation materials currently consist of either carbon or graphite in various forms. Due to these limited materials choices, the results include significant heat loss, expensive maintenance costs incurred due to frequent replacement of the carbon insulation, and long lead times due to supply tightness of carbon fibers. End-users need to reduce expensive energy and maintenance costs, through the utilization of the latest advanced materials for insulation. Significant advancements have been made in the field of aerogel materials in recent years, and these nanomaterials have great potential to lead to significant energy savings across various industries. The proposed work seeks to determine the technical and economic feasibility of utilizing a carbon aerogel encapsulated into carbon fiber insulation for use in high-temperature furnaces. The project will focus on characterization of high-temperature thermal properties, pilot-scale testing of these new insulation materials, and determination of the economic benefit from energy-efficiency improvements and reduced maintenance costs. In the Phase I effort, significant reductions in the thermal conductivity of standard carbon felts were measured, up to a 56% improvement. Test quantities of the new composite insulation were tested in a pilot-scale furnace for initial thermal performance evaluations. This initial testing verified the laboratory results using an un-optimized aerogel formulation and infiltration process. An initial economic analysis was performed and shows the potential to significantly impact the solar silicon and carbon fiber production industries with the impact being a reduction in energy costs of 1.2 MM MWhrs annually. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: There is significant potential to dramatically lower the thermal conductivity of industrial carbon insulation materials by utilizing encapsulation of carbon aerogels. Use of these composite insulations can result in major improvements in high-temperature furnace insulation and increase energy efficiency. Commercialization of this technology will lead to new job creation in the manufacturing and sales/marketing process.
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