Supercritcal Fluid Processing of Aerogels

Period of Performance: 07/29/1992 - 07/30/1994

$246K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

CF Technologies, Inc.
1 Westinghouse Plaza Array
Hyde Park, MA 02136
Principal Investigator

Research Topics

Abstract

AEROGELS ARE UNUSUALLY LOW DENSITY, HIGH SURFACE AREA SOLIDS WITH A VARIETY OF POTENTIAL MILITARY AND COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS. PRODUCED USING VARIOUS SUPERCRITICAL PROCESSING AND DRYING TECHNIQUES THESE AMORPHOUS SOLIDS ARE BEING PRODUCED AND TESTED BY AN INCREASING NUMBER OF FOREIGN COUNTRIES FOR THEIR REMARKABLE THERMAL, OPTICAL, AND PHYSICAL PROPERTIES. DURING PHASE I, SUCCESS IN DEVELOPING NEW LABORATORY SCALE PRODUCTS AND PROCESSES OPENED UP A NUMBER OF NEW PROCESSING, MATERIALS, AND APPLICATION OPPORTUNITIES. FOR EXAMPLE, LIGHTWEIGHT "STRUCTURAL" AEROGELS WERE PRODUCED WITH IMPROVEMENTS IN MECHANICAL PROPERTIES SUCH AS YOUNG'S MODULUS OF AS MUCH AS 2000%. THE OBJECTIVE OF THIS PHASE II PROJECT IS TO FURTHER DEVELOP MULTICOMPONENT AEROGEL PRODUCTS AND PROCESSES USING SUPERCRITICAL CARBON DIOXIDE LOW TEMPERATURE DRYING. THE AEROGELS PRODUCED WILL BE TESTED FOR GENERAL PHYSICAL, CHEMICAL, AND MECHANICAL PROPERTIES. THEY WILL ALSO UNDERGO SPECIFIC APPLICATION TESTING FOR SEVERAL DEFENSE APPLICATIONS. THE PROCESS FOR MANUFACTURING THESE NEW AEROGELS WILL BE SCALED UP FROM LABORATORY TESTING TO FULL SCALE PROTOTYPE PROCESS DESIGN. TARGET APPLICATIONS INCLUDE MULTIMETALLIC CATALYSTS FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF HAZARDOUS MATERIALS, LIGHT WEIGHT MATERIALS FOR VARIOUS SPACE STRUCTURE APPLICATIONS, PRECURSORS FOR ELECTRIC CERAMICS SUCH AS SUPERCONDUCTORS AND SEMICONDUCTORS, THERMAL AND SOUND INSULATORS, AND FIRE BARRIER. ANTICIPATED BENEFITS/POTENTIAL COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS - POTENTIAL COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS FOR MULTICOMPONENT AEROGELS INCLUDE: MANUFACTURE OF SUPERCONDUCTOR PRECURSOR, SEMICONDUCTORS, AND CAPACITORS; POROUS MATERIALS FOR STORING PROPELLANTS; NOISE ATTENUATION; CATALYSTS; AND ULTRASONIC DETECTION EQUIPMENT. SOME BENEFITS OF SUPERCRITICAL PROCESSING INCLUDE EXCELLENT REPRODUCTIBILITY OF PRODUCT, LOW TEMPERATURE PROFILE FOR HEAT SENSITIVE OR REACTIVE SUBSTANCES, HIGH PURITY, AND CHEMICALLY HOMOGENEOUS MATERIAL WITH UNIFORM PHYSICAL STRUCTURE.