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Quartzene - Market uptake of the world's first low cost aerogel-type nano-material

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Quartzene (Quartzene - Market uptake of the world's first low cost aerogel-type nano-material)

Reporting period: 2016-05-01 to 2017-04-30

Aerogels are Nano-porous materials that are considered the best insulation materials in the world; 10 cm of aerogel offer the same insulation effect as 20 cm of a common insulation material such as mineral wool! The problem is that until now it has not been possible to produce aerogels at a cost low enough for them to be anything other than a niche product.

By using nanotechnology, Svenska Aerogel has developed a patented process that allows for the manufacture of an aerogel-type material called Quartzene®, that is fully recyclable and with unique properties, which can be manufactured at a 70-90% lower cost than all other aerogels. This means that for the first time aerogels can be applied in mass-market applications such as insulation in buildings, coatings and disposable food containers. Effective insulation is vital in order to solve the problem with climate change.

Quartzene® has since 2010 been tested and evaluated on a smaller scale by a number of potential users and in various applications. However, since the future demand for Quartzene® will be in the 1000s’ of tonnes, the users need to make sure that the material contains the same properties when produced on a full scale. The project’s main objective is therefore to allow 4 leading materials and end-user products producing companies to start the final (large scale) validation of the Nano-material in their products, with a purpose to reach lower thermal conductivities. This will be made possible by scaling up the patented manufacturing process to 20-25% of the future full scale, thereby demonstrating and qualifying key process steps in an operational environment. Another important objective of the project is to finalize an investor-ready business plan for the market introduction of Quartzene®.

The Quartzene project consists of 5 work packages and is designed to cover all activities needed to prepare for a market launch of the new nano-material whilst also verifying the design and placement of the 3 - 4 future full scale plants Svenska Aerogel plans on having in operation in the EU by 2022.
The QUARTZENE project is doing real progress and the activities performed within the initiated work packages (Work packages 1-4) run according to the objectives set out in our application (DoA). In the first 12 months (1st reporting period) the work has focused mainly on WP2 (Validating the manufacturing process) and WP3 (Validating material properties in 4 customer trials).

In WP2, the Quartzene process has been scaled up to a production volume of approx. 50 ton/year including three major parts; 1. The Wet Chemistry part, 2. The Cleaning/Rinsing part, and 3. The Drying part. The successful installation and fine-tuning of the pilot scale production process has been the foundation for the subsequent trials and demonstrations performed in WP3.
WP3 has included trials with 4 potential customers (Paroc, Aercrete, Celwise and Kolon-Glotech) focusing on three (3) application areas:

1) Thermal insulation products for buildings and other constructed facilities,
2) Thermal insulation of cellulose based food packaging products, and
3) Thermal insulation of thin surface treatments/coatings for the automotive industry.

The results have also been so promising that additional tests have been requested by the 4 partners and those tests will be conducted in accordance with a time schedule decided on with each partner.
In addition, within WP1 management tasks were implemented and within WP4 an interactive project webpage (www.sme-quartzene.com) was launched. A number of other dissemination activities have been done during the project period, including inter alia two (2) different brochures have been produced, seven (7) press releases, a short movie presenting Svenska Aerogel, study visits to the pilot plant in Gävle and presentations at about 15 different investor meetings.
The project is expected to lead to the market uptake and commercial distribution of the Nano-material Quartzene® and sustainable manufacturing process that lowers the cost by 70-90%, making the material a viable alternative in mass market insulation applications. Because aerogels are so much more efficient as insulators, it is expected that adding an aerogel-type material such as Quartzene® will greatly reduce the amount of material needed whilst also reducing the energy use and emissions of CO2. Especially considering that buildings are responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions in the EU. Adding Quartzene® as thermal insulation to existing buildings in the EU could potentially lower CO2-emissions from heating and cooling by 42% (353 million tons per year).

The project is expected to greatly enhance the profitability and growth performance of Svenska Aerogel by transferring knowledge to key users about the potential of using an innovative, disruptive and competitive Nano-material that will be launched on the EU and global market after the project. A successful project is expected to lead to a quick market uptake of the new material.
Quartzene in different versions
Benefits of aerogels