Aerogel Core Ltd, a new company established by experts from the University of Bath, specializes in ultra-light “aerogels” that can be utilized as soundproofing and heat-shielding materials in the aerospace and automotive industries.
Innovate UK has funded the team’s spin-out company to monetize its inventive and environmentally friendly aerogels, which are synthetic, porous materials made by replacing the liquid component typically found in gels with gas.
The group has also discovered a way to use graphene to create aerogels that maintain their shape and strength without the gel structure collapsing.
Ultralight aerogels have other functional properties besides tuneable acoustic properties, such as thermal, fire, and electromagnetic interference shielding. The combination of acoustic and other functional properties results in a material that can have a significant impact on a variety of industrial sectors.
The material, in particular, satisfies the functionalities of specific engineering applications for the aerospace sector, resulting in the best acoustic properties for a material of such low density.
Professor Michele Meo and Research Fellow Gian-Piero Malfense Fierro of the University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering have received funding from the Innovate UK ICURe (Innovation and Commercialisation of University Research) program.
Our initial calculations for a 280 aircraft fleet, like that of British Airways, would see an estimated 30–90 tonne reduction in CO2 emissions per year by using our material, due to reducing the weight of similar materials by up to 50%. This is ground-breaking for the aerospace industry. We look forward to commercializing the technology and proving the scalability of our manufacturing process.
Gian-Piero Malfense Fierro, Research Fellow, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Bath
“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,” explains Professor Michele Meo.
The calculations for CO2 reduction to the aerospace industry go a long way in demonstrating the potential to support the government with their net zero strategy to build back greener, which aims to decarbonize all sectors of the economy by 2050. It also provides an excellent example for our university strategy in supporting our research priority of sustainability and core value of adopting best environmental practice.
Ali Hadavizadeh, Technology Transfer Manager, University of Bath
Ali Hadavizadeh backed the study group to develop their technology from the Research and Innovation Services (RIS) at the University.
The researchers intend to concentrate on proving the scalability of the technology by automating the manufacturing process and further material development. The grant awarded by Innovate UK will provide the initial steps toward commercial exploitation and broadening the business case for other markets.