Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Thermalytica

An aerogel eases the roll-out of hydrogen logistics

Agriculture & Energy

Could this material pave the way for hydrogen power and revolutionise industries on Earth and in space?

Spotted: Green hydrogen has great potential for decarbonising heavy industry, largely because of its ability to generate high temperatures and, by reacting with a carbon source like CO2, create the feedstock needed to produce materials like steel and plastics. The high cost of the material is depressing demand, however, along with difficulties in storing liquid hydrogen at the necessary low temperatures.

To help make the transition to a hydrogen-powered world a reality, Japanese sustainable thermal management company Thermalytica has created a super-insulating, nanoscale, silica aerogel. The aerogel vastly reduces the conduction of heat caused by gas flow, making it useable in hydrogen logistics, as well as in the space industry, net-zero energy buildings, EVs, new textiles, electronics, and energy infrastructure, among other applications.

Called Thermal Insulation Inflatable-Super-Air (TIISA), the aerogel is composed of ultra-small particles that are one-thousandth the size of traditional powder aerogels. TIISA is available in four different forms (sheet, powder, paint, and particles) that make the new material incredibly versatile. Reducing the loss of heat will help make hydrogen power more affordable, particularly as the ultra-high-performance thermal insulation material makes it easier to store and transport liquid hydrogen at sub-zero temperatures.

The technology is also available as an electron beam physical vapor deposition (EB-PVD) system for applying a thermal barrier coating to equipment. The coating is a ceramic layer that insulates metal surfaces, making it possible for systems to work effectively at higher temperatures. One of the company’s goals is to help make rockets and spacecraft reusable by allowing them to pass through the ultra-high temperatures of Earth’s atmosphere on their return from space.

Thermalytica is a spin-out from the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan, and the company is currently working to further develop its materials through support and collaboration with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

From cleaner industrial oils to a platform tracking hydrogen supply chains, heavy industry is piloting groundbreaking innovations working to decarbonise the sector.

Written By: Keely Khoury



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