SBIR Phase II: Vacuum Insulation Panels with Tensile Structural Elements

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase II
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
8853 Kenneth Terrace, Skokie, IL, 60076
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Prateek Gupta
(630) 886-2325
Business Contact:
Prateek Gupta
(630) 886-2325
Research Institution:

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project will develop an ultra-thin high-R-value robust vacuum insulation panel (VIP). Thermal models indicate that with a half-inch thick VIP, an R-value of 40 can be achieved with an expected cost of ~$3 per square foot. The technology uses tensile structural elements as thermal impedances and is based on a 2011 patent which has been exclusively licensed from the University of Illinois at Chicago. The VIP is expected to be suitable for installation in industrial and residential structures, since it has a stainless steel foil exterior as opposed to current VIP technology, which uses a laminate of polyester and aluminum foil as its vacuum barrier. The aluminum foil creates a thermal short (edge losses) in current VIPs which can greatly reduce their effective R-value. The use of stainless steel has the additional advantage of significantly reducing edge losses as well as increasing puncture resistance. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project will be a drastic reduction in the energy required to heat and cool buildings, or to refrigerate trucks used to transport perishable goods. In transportation, a refrigerated hi-cube trailer with two inches of polyurethane foam has an R-value of ~10, which can be increased to 50 by incorporating a half-inch-thick VIP. Most refrigerated trailers in the US consume ~1 gallon of diesel fuel each hour to keep their loads cold. Since there are ~330,000 refrigerated trailers operating for ~1,500 hours/year, this translates into a fuel savings of 80%, or nearly 1% of the total diesel fuel consumption in this country each year. Compact and inexpensive thermal insulation can allow better use of space inside new dwellings, and be used to retrofit existing dwellings with more effective insulation. Finally, a 2002 review prepared for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development cited low puncture resistance as a key factor slowing the adoption of vacuum insulation panels in the residential market. The proposed innovation will mitigate this factor and speed adoption in this market.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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