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

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Quartzene (Quartzene - Market uptake of the world's first low cost aerogel-type nano-material)

Reporting period: 2017-05-01 to 2018-04-30

Aerogels are Nano-materials that are considered the best insulation materials in the world; 10 cm2 of aerogel offer twice the insulation effect, compared to 10 cm2 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 has therefore been 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 has been 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 has been to finalize an investor-ready business plan for the market introduction of Quartzene®.

The Quartzene project consisted of 5 work packages and was 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 has mainly run according to the original plan and the activities performed within the work packages 1-5 has largely fulfilled the objectives set out in our application (DoA).

WP1: The project manager (Christer Sjöström) and his deputy (Anders Lundström) has been fully devoted to the successful operation of the project.

WP2: The successful installation and fine-tuning of the pilot scale production process was done according to plan and has been the foundation for the subsequent trials and demonstrations performed in WP3. The evaluation and validation of the process has given a firm basis for the final design of the future full scale 24/7 process units, including the level of automation of the process.

WP3: According to the original project plan, WP3 has finalised 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 and thermal/acoustic insulating mats for the automotive industry.
Overall the testing has been conducted according to the original plan, even if the order of the tests had to be changed. The time for the tests and performance evaluations have for each market partner also been stretched out over a longer period. The latter is due to the iterative approach that normally appears; a test result arise new questions, show needs of verification, etc., and in actual fact, the results have also been so promising that additional tests were requested by the 4 partners and those tests were conducted in accordance with a time schedule decided on with each partner.

WP4: During the project, the website (www.sme-quartzene.com) has been a continued important communication platform for Svenska Aerogel. Three (3) brochure have been produced for a number of fairs where Svenska Aerogel participated, e.g. “European Coating Show 2017”,“IE Expo, Environment and biotechnologies“, ”Nordic Nano Lab User Meeting” ”EuroNanoForum 2017” and “The 21st Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference”. A large number of brochures have been printed and handed out to interested stakeholders as a complementary information material to the business discussions held in the stands.

A number of other dissemination activities have been done during the project period, including inter alia eighteen (18) press releases, a short movie presenting Svenska Aerogel, a movie documenting parts of the EuroNanoForum 2017, study visits to the pilot plant in Gävle and presentations at about 15 different investor meetings. All of these activities have led to a higher knowledge of Svenska Aerogel AB and the project SME Quartzene among stakeholders such as the European coating industry as well as potential resellers and relevant European trade and policy organizations etc.

WP5: In accordance with the original project plan (DoA), we have been able to conduct further market analysis and all necessary preparations, including a go-to-market strategy, for full scale commercialization of Quartzene® in the insulation sector. Our work, including trial demonstrations, have shown that SvAAB and Quartzene is ready to take a leading position on the global markets for thermal insulation etc.
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.