Aerogels are extremely versatile materials that exhibit exceptional properties such as low density, acoustic & thermal damping, high porosity and electrical conductivity, to name a few. Derived by sol-gel chemistry, carbon aerogel is a special class of high surface area material. Carbon aerogel, also known as aerocarbon and grapheme aerogel, comprises nanometer scaled particles that are covalently bonded. Typical properties of Carbon Aerogel include high surface area (ranging from 400 – 1000 square meter per gram) and high porosity (well over 50% with the pore diameter under 100 nm). Carbon aerogel is usually manufactured in the form of a non-woven composite paper made with carbon fibers impregnated with resorcinol-formaldehyde, which is further pyrolyzed. More than 90% of carbon aerogel is composed of air.
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The electrical conductivity of carbon aerogel varies as per its density and thus, the material can be used as an electrode. The high surface area of carbon aerogel makes it useful in creating supercapacitors of values ranging in thousands of farads. Being extremely black in the infrared spectrum, carbon aerogel absorbs upto 98-99% radiation between 250 nm to 14.3 µm. Such features of carbon aerogel make it an efficient solar energy collector. Apart from being used in the electrical and electronics industry, carbon aerogel also finds application as a reinforcing agent for organic or natural rubber, high temperature insulation, a pigment for ink jet printers, a gas separation media and an electro-chemical storage device.
Attributing to the numerous ongoing studies on carbon aerogel, the market is anticipated to be a technologically-driven one. Recent studies show that apart from the aforementioned properties, reversible stretch ability is an added property of carbon aerogel. New technology in carbon aerogel enables it to reversibly expand to more than three times its original length. This is expected to propel the carbon aerogel market due to the growing demand from stretchable electronics such as wearable electronic devices, energy generation and storage, aerospace applications and lightweight mechanical devices used in high temperature applications.
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There have been several attempts to use hydrogen as a fuel. However, the storage of hydrogen limits the scalability of the concept. Its high pore density positions carbon aerogel as a potentially safer alternative to store and transport hydrogen. The carbon aerogel structure can be systematically controlled by precisely altering its manufacturing process. Carbon aerogel was developed in the 1980s and is recently being commercialized. As carbon aerogel is still in the introductory stage of the product lifecycle, it is likely to experience fast growth throughout the forecast period, given its potential applications in aerospace and automotive industries. Hence, the scope for carbon aerogel seems wide and bright throughout 2018 – 2028.
Having said that, one cannot ignore the high production cost associated with the complex manufacturing process. Also, the aerogels market is highly consolidated and the entry of new small-scale manufacturers seems difficult until product differentiation is achieved through the introduction of innovative products. Currently, newer versions of carbon aerogels are being studied and commercialized in the market and high demand is expected from research laboratories and academic institutions.
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Carbon Aerogel Market Portrays High-End Demand across Major Geographies during 2018-2028
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