Aerogel Market size is forecast to reach US$1.2 billion by 2026, after growing at a CAGR of 9.2% during 2021-2026. Aerogels are a diverse class of ultralow synthetic material derived from a gel, in which the liquid component of the gel is replaced with gas by supercritical drying. The demand for silica aerogel as thermal insulation materials from the oil & gas, construction, transportation, performance coating, and other industries is driving the market. The aerogel industry is also being driven by factors such as super thermal resistance, supercritical drying, and thinner and lighter alternatives. Furthermore, as several residential and commercial construction projects rise around the world, the building and construction industry will have a positive impact on demand for aerogel over the forecast period.
Aerogel Market COVID-19 Impact
COVID-19’s outbreak in 2020 has had an impact on the global economy and demand scenario in major industries around the world. The global lockdown and restriction of industrial operations, trade activities, supply-chain disruption, and other activities have culminated in the pandemic scenario. During this circumstance, the key end industries of aerogel, such as transportation, oil & gas, electronics, construction, and more were also influenced. The market has been impacted by a drop in oil prices and delays in new pipeline installation, lower demand from the automotive sector, and a temporary halt in construction activities across the world for a few months in 2020. As a result of slow demand from end-use industries, the high-growth aerogel market is expected to grow at a slower pace in 2020. The market, on the other hand, is recovering, and businesses have resumed operations with reduced capacity and under government guidelines. However, all end-use industries were fully operational by the beginning of 2021, resulting in high demand for aerogel. As a result, the market is expected to grow at a rapid rate over the forecast period.
Aerogel Market Segment Analysis – By Form
The blanket form segment held the highest share in the aerogel market in 2020. It was the first commercially available aerogel for a variety of applications. Because it is super insulating and has thermal properties that are two to three times better than particle material, the blanket material has a clear value proposition. Blanket materials are used in a variety of industries, including oil and gas, construction, automotive, marine, and aerospace because their flexible physical structure allows them to be cut and modified to meet specific requirements.
Aerogel Market Segment Analysis – By Type
The silica aerogels segment held the highest share in the aerogel market in 2020 and is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 9.8% during 2021-2026. The process of synthesizing silica aerogel is both cost-effective and versatile. Silica aerogels are well-known for their exceptional ability to combine low thermal conductivity and high optical transparency. They are transparent, but appear blue due to the Rayleigh scattering effect, and are thus referred to as frozen smoke or blue smoke. The high abundant raw material availability, insulating properties, versatile manufacturing process, and low cost of silica aerogel are escalating its market. Silica was the first commercially available type of aerogel. Because of their ultra-low weight and transparency, silica aerogel materials are particularly appealing. Many applications are compatible with a visibly transparent super-insulating material.
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Aerogel Market Segment Analysis – By Process
The virgin aerogels segment held the highest share in the aerogel market in 2020. Virgin aerogels are the original form of aerogel that has not been loaded with any other material or chemically treated to improve its physical structure. The only disadvantage of virgin aerogels is their brittleness. Because virgin aerogels are more readily available than fabricated aerogels, they are used in a variety of applications. These aerogels can be used in industrial applications without any additional processing or modifications, and they are used in the same form as those produced by aerogel manufacturers.
Aerogel Market Segment Analysis – By Application
The thermal insulation segment held a significant share in the aerogel market in 2020. Aerogel’s solid component is made up of tiny, three-dimensional clusters that are intertwined. They makeup only 3% of the total volume and are poor conductors. The remaining 97 percent of the aerogel’s volume is made up of air trapped in microscopic pores. Because there isn’t much room for air to move, both convection and gas-phase conduction are inhibited. Aerogel is the world’s lowest density solid and most effective thermal insulation material due to these characteristics. Thermal insulation materials contribute to making the processing of oil, gas, and process fluids more efficient, sustainable, safe, and cost-effective. The thermal insulation materials are often employed in the oil & gas industry for applications such as pipework, pumps, manifolds, exhausts, burners, and more, which is anticipated to positively influence the demand for aerogel as a thermal insulator.
Aerogel Market Segment Analysis – By End-Use Industry
The oil & gas segment held the highest share in the aerogel market in 2020 and is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 8.6% during 2021-2026. This is due to aerogel’s chemical inertness and low heat conductivity, making it a good material for pipeline insulation. Fossil fuels are critical in meeting the world’s growing energy demand. Fuels such as diesel and petrol are required in various ways, ranging from the generation of electricity to the operation of automobiles. Exploration, extraction, refining, and selling of crude oil products are all part of the oil & gas segment. The industry generates a ton of cash, making it one of the most important parts of the global economy. Given the length of time, it takes to find and extract hydrocarbons, the investments required in this segment are also quite high. The output must be transported carefully to the regasification sites via long pipelines. The entire process takes place in extreme conditions, such as subsea pipelines and rigs in Arctic waters. Maintaining the temperature of these pipelines is critical for the uninterrupted flow of hydrocarbons. As a result, the oil and gas industry is heavily reliant on insulation materials such as aerogels.
Aerogel Market Segment Analysis – By Geography
North America region held the largest share in the aerogel market in 2020 up to 34.4%. The oil & gas industry is flourishing in the region, which is accelerating the demand for aerogel in the region. For instance, Annual crude oil production in the United States hit a new high of 12.23 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2019, up 1.24 million b/d from 2018. According to the US Energy Information Administration, monthly crude oil production in the United States averaged 12.86 million b/d in November 2019, the highest monthly crude oil production in US history (EIA). In 2019, new projects in the Offshore Federal Gulf of Mexico (US-controlled waters in the Gulf of Mexico) helped boost production in the region. In 2019, oil and gas companies launched seven new projects. The Offshore Federal Gulf of Mexico’s crude oil production elevated by 126,000 barrels per day in 2019, ensuing in the area’s highest annual average production of 1.88 million barrels per day. This growth in the North American oil & gas sector is set to accelerate the demand for thermal insulation materials in the region, thereby driving the aerogel market growth.
Aerogel Market Drivers
Thinner and Lighter Alternative
According to NASA, aerogels are one of the lightest solid materials ever discovered. A blade of grass can balance on graphene aerogel, which is seven times lighter than air. The world’s lightest material has been developed by Chinese material scientists: a graphene aerogel that is seven times lighter than air and 12 percent lighter than the previous record-holder (aerographite). Polyurethane foam, mineral wool, rock wool, and stone wool are examples of traditional insulation materials with drawbacks. To achieve the desired R-value, for example, thick layers of these materials are required, resulting in the loss of valuable floor space in new construction. It’s even more difficult to add high levels of insulation to old buildings because the extra layers alter the house’s aesthetic appearance. Hence, Aerogels are expected to be an ideal replacement for traditional insulation materials in new buildings to meet energy standards set by various regulatory bodies and to avoid structural compromises. Aerogel materials can save a significant amount of energy that would otherwise be used for heating and cooling because of their low thermal conductivity and thinness. Because of their characteristics, such as low weight and low thermal conductivity, aerogels are used for apparel in cold climates. They’re also commonly used in industrial applications.
Increasing Demand from the Building and Construction Industry
Aerogel is flexible blanket insulation that can help reduce energy loss while also saving space in residential and commercial buildings. Aerogel is a fantastic way to save energy by preventing heat loss or gain through the building envelope. To provide maximum energy efficiency, it’s typically used for complete coverage in walls, floors, and roofs, as well as in framing and windows. Governments are investing heavily in the construction industry’s development. For instance, Thailand’s government has set aside THB4 billion ($125.6 million) for five low-cost housing projects across the country in 2019. The Department of Human Settlements set aside R95.9 billion in February 2020 to support the delivery of 22,696 housing subsidies in South Africa between 2020 and 2021. Burkina Faso’s government awarded a EUR 122 million (US$139.3 million) contract for the construction of Lot 2A of the new Ouagadougou-Donsin International Airport in October 2020. In October 2020, as part of a £3.7 billion (US$4.7 billion) deal, the UK government has announced that 40 hospitals will be constructed by 2030. The construction activities have been increasing, and the trend is likely to continue due to the increasing demand. With this, the demand for aerogel is also expected to increase, which will then drive market growth.
Aerogel Market Challenges
High Manufacturing Cost
One of the major factors limiting the growth of the aerogel market is the high cost of production. The high cost of silica aerogels is due to the high cost of raw resources (for alkoxide-based precursor materials), cumbersome method techniques (solvent exchange steps, long reaction times limited by diffusion), and the configuration of relatively small production capabilities by companies. Aerogel materials require a lot of research and development, which makes the whole process expensive. Aerogel materials are made using synthetic methods, which are less versatile. Aerogel production necessitates a sophisticated facility due to the highly specialized production mechanisms. Supercritical drying is the most expensive step in the aerogel manufacturing process.
Aerogel Market Landscape
Technology launches, acquisitions, and R&D activities are key strategies adopted by players in the aerogel market. Aerogel market top companies are Aspen Aerogels, Cabot Corporation, Aerogel Technologies, Nanotech Co. Ltd., Armacell, Guangdong Alison Hi-Tech, Active Aerogels, Enersens, JIOS Aerogel, and BASF.
In August 2020, ArmaGel DT, a next-generation flexible aerogel blanket for dual-temperature and cryogenic applications, was introduced by Armacell.
North America dominates the aerogel market, owing to the escalating oil and gas industry in the region. For instance, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects crude oil production to increase in 2022 by 0.4 million b/d in the USA.
Aerogel is significantly lighter than other types of insulation. As a result, despite having a much thinner coating, it can provide more resistance than traditional plastic foam and glasses, which drives its demand.
Moreover, the aerospace and automotive industries have made significant contributions to the global market’s expansion.
Furthermore, aerogel is an ideal material for thermal protection because of its low density and low thermal conductivity. It is embedded in firefighter protective clothing and is being incorporated into apparel such as shoes and jackets due to its protective performance.
A. Blanket Aerogel Market
B. Insulation Materials Market
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