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China Chemical Daily: aerogel gold is approaching development period.


The gold market is coming. The market value of global aerogels can reach US $1 billion 896 million 600 thousand by 2020, and the annual compound growth rate from 2014~2020 is 36.4%, according to a report released by Allied market research company. With the continuous progress of aerogel materials in the new application field, the market growth momentum will further enhance. With the development of application fields, China's aerogel market has expanded rapidly at a faster rate than the international average level. In 2014, the output of aerogels was about 8500 cubic meters, about 1500 cubic meters of imported products, and the market size was about 182 million yuan. Since last year, the aerogel market has seen a sudden increase in production and marketing scale. The general manager of Zhejiang Shaoxing San Nuo Energy Saving Technology Co., Ltd. told reporters that the industry's new capacity increased by about 20 thousand cubic meters last year, mainly due to the expansion of aerogel enterprises that had already achieved mass production, so that the market regulation could reach 330 million yuan.

He said that this year, in addition to the expansion of the original enterprises, new enterprises have also become an important force contributing to production capacity. It is estimated that this year's new capacity will be around 20000 cubic meters. It is estimated that aerogel materials will be widely used in industrial and equipment fields from 2015 to 2020. In 2020, the traditional industrial insulation materials will be replaced to share the domestic market of about about 50000000000 yuan of industrial thermal insulation materials. In 2020, aerogel materials will begin large-scale application in the construction field; 2025 will replace the traditional building insulation materials, and share the domestic annual about 100000000000 yuan. Market. Moreover, by 2020, the aerogel industry will increase rapidly, the capacity will expand dramatically, and the aerogel industry will enter the stage of explosive growth.

Although the outlook is promising. However, at present, aerogel materials are still in the initial stage of development in China, and no group of superior enterprises has yet been formed. Jin Chengli believes that the next 35 years will be the golden development period of aerogel materials. Enterprises that have low cost core technology and certain market resources will have huge room for development, and they can quickly become the dominant enterprises in the industry. With the development of market application of cost constraints, the requirements of building insulation materials are higher and higher, with low proportion, fire prevention and thermal conductivity. Compared with the existing thermal insulation materials, aerogel felt has lower thermal conductivity and lighter weight, and the same quality can cover more areas. In addition, aerogel composite products are also excellent in sound insulation, fire prevention and moisture resistance.

Many industry sources said that the current obstacle to the development of aerogel market is the price. Ni Xingyuan introduced to reporters: "in the field of building insulation, thermal insulation, the existing insulation materials tens of yuan a square meter. Although aerogels were more than 200 yuan per square metre two or three years ago, with aerogel scale production, it has now dropped to over 100 yuan. However, there is still a gap between the price of aerogels and the degree of market acceptance. I believe we will get closer and closer in the future. Aerogels are mainly composed of silica aerogels, alumina aerogels, zirconia aerogels and carbon aerogels because of their different compositions. At present, silica aerogel technology is mature and widely applied in the market. The industrialization development of aerogels at home and abroad mostly revolves around the application of silica aerogels in adiabatic applications.

The preparation process of carbon aerogels is also more mature. The carbon aerogel materials used as anode materials for lithium batteries and desalination electrodes have been applied in China. Moreover, carbon aerogels have been used as optical films for high laser damage thresholds in large laser devices. However, the production cost of carbon aerogel is high, hindering its application and expanding its application. Experts suggest that carbon aerogels should be simplified and their production cost should be reduced. Jin Chengli believes that once the production cost of aerogel can be significantly reduced, the market price will also decline, and the market will expand rapidly. For example, silica aerogels will revolutionize the replacement of traditional thermal insulation materials. Atmospheric drying is the process direction.

At present, the preparation of silica aerogels usually consists of two main processes: sol-gel and drying, and the required nanopores and corresponding gel skeletons are obtained through sol-gel process. Because of the surface tension of the solvent in the gel skeleton, the skeleton collapse will occur in the ordinary drying condition. The core of the aerogel preparation technology is to avoid the collapse of the nanoporous structure due to capillary force in the drying process. Shen Jun vividly introduced that this is similar to making tofu. First, we need to make soymilk from raw materials, and then solidify it into tofu. If we squeeze out the water in tofu, it is dried bean, and the volume will be greatly reduced after it becomes dried bean. The preparation of aerogels is similar to the extrusion of moisture in tofu, but the volume can not be reduced. It is more difficult to add gas into it.

According to different processes, aerogel drying is mainly divided into two types: supercritical drying and atmospheric drying. Supercritical drying technology is the technology to achieve mass production of aerogels. It is also currently used by aerogel companies at home and abroad to achieve the critical point in drying process by pressure and temperature control. The solvent in supercritical state has no apparent surface tension, so that the skeleton structure can be maintained during the drying process, and the aerogels can be obtained by removing a large amount of liquid from the condensate under the premise of maintaining the original structure.

Atmospheric drying technology is based on the principle that first, a low surface tension solvent is used to replace the water and alcohol with larger surface tension in the wet gel hole. Then the hydrophobic surface of the gel is modified to reduce the degree of gel shrinkage. In addition, the effect of capillary pressure can be reduced by adjusting the uniformity of the gel pores and enhancing the strength of the network skeleton, so that the structure can be obtained under normal pressure. The properties of the aerogels are similar to those obtained by supercritical drying.

Supercritical drying uses high-pressure equipment, with general working pressure of up to 7MPa ~ 20MPa, high initial investment and high operation and maintenance costs; atmospheric drying technology uses conventional atmospheric equipment, because it does not need high-pressure conditions, low initial investment, but high technical threshold, with high requirements for the design and process combination optimization of the distributor. Experts believe that atmospheric drying is a new aerogel preparation process, which is active and has great potential for mass production of aerogels. "We are all working in this direction." Ni Xingyuan told reporters in this way.

Jin Chengli said that if aerogels are to meet the huge market of building insulation, such as reaching the medium scale of annual output of 500 thousand cubic meters, the investment of supercritical drying technology will be as high as several billion yuan, which is not conducive to aerogel enterprises to become bigger and stronger. By using atmospheric drying technology, enterprises can achieve larger production scale with less investment, and more adapt to the needs of large-scale production in the future.

In addition, limited by the silicon source, supercritical drying technology has limited space to reduce the cost of raw materials, and can only improve the production efficiency by optimizing the system; while atmospheric drying has a strong capacity to accept cheap silicon source, and has more freedom in process optimization, so it has more space for cost reduction. Jin Chengli said that atmospheric drying can achieve continuous automatic production of aerogels, the efficiency can be increased by 3~5 times, and the product quality stability and production level can also be greatly improved.