Aerogel Team Awarded NSF Small Business Technology Transfer Program Phase I Grant

Publication Date
Mary Carroll ’86, the Dwane W. Crichton Professor of Chemistry in the aerogel lab with a student.

$140,834 (Union); $256,000 (total): NSF Small Business Technology Transfer Program Phase I (STTR)

Monolithic Aerogel Designs for Daylighting Applications
Project Team: Ann Anderson, Agnes S. MacDonald Professor of Mechanical Engineering; Mary Carroll '86, Dwane W. Crichton Professor of Chemistry; and John Costa '17, Chief Executive Officer, SunThru LLC

Daylighting is the controlled admission of natural light, direct sunlight, and diffused-skylight into a building to reduce electric lighting and saving energy. In the daylighting market, natural light transmission, optical clarity, and thermal insulation are highly valued, yet existing products generally fail to achieve all three.

The use of aerogels in daylighting applications developed through this project will decouple thermal performance from window clarity, allowing the user to experience the benefits of increased natural light without being resigned to low translucency or high heating and cooling losses. This solution will provide the health and productivity benefits of natural lighting, while improving overall energy efficiencies in buildings by significantly decreasing energy consumption.

To mitigate the risks associated with effectively bringing an aerogel product to the daylighting market, the project team will focus on: (1) improving aerogel molding technology; (2) developing a proprietary innovation to build larger systems; (3) experimenting with dye-doped and etched aerogels for tailored aesthetic effects; (4) fabricating aerogels for two prototype windows (one colorless, one aesthetically enhanced); (5) developing a simplified window assembly method to fabricate two prototype windows; and (6) studying the aerogel precursor supply chain and use of alternative chemistries.