Aerogel vs. Vacuum Insulation

Ultrathin vacuum insulation offers a super-strong, high-temperature aerogel alternative

Aerogel is one of the most effective types of insulation on earth. This exceptionally lightweight, porous, and low-density material can be found in applications ranging from commercial products to Mars Rovers. It is a highly effective thermal insulator – but it can also be extremely sensitive to vibration and other stresses.

Insulon® vacuum insulation offers an alternative to aerogel insulation.

High temperature high performance advanced vacuum insulation

Max Operating Temperature

Silica aerogels have a maximum operating temperature of 650°C. Insulon® can be designed for applications from -270°C to 1000°C.

Durable, Mechanically Robust

Vacuum insulation materials such as stainless steel and Inconel are more mechanically robust than aerogel and can resist damage due to vibration.

High Thermal Performance

Insulon® vacuum spaces drastically reduce convective heat transfer. Vacuum Super Insulation also reduces radiation heat transfer for even higher performance.

Ultra-Thin, Low Profile

The overall wall thickness of Insulon® vacuum insulation can be as low as 0.25 mm, depending on the application.

Insulation Temperature Range

Maximum operating temperatures for aerogel can vary. Silica-based aerogels and composite pyrogels operate until about 650°C. Airloys have maximum operating temperatures of about 300°C.

Insulon® has a much wider operating temperature range, making it effective for high-temperature applications. Insulon® is effective in extreme thermal environments and has a maximum operating temperature of 1000°C. Most Insulon® parts are made from stainless steel, Inconel, or other alloys, depending on the requirements of the application.

How durable is aerogel?

Silica aerogels are very brittle, have low fracture toughness, and can break easily. Although some more robust x-aerogels exist, they have more limited operating temperatures than their silica counterparts.

Vacuum insulation has higher material strength than aerogel insulation because it is made from stronger, more durable materials. Insulon® is designed from stainless metals and can withstand high-pressure environments, vibration, and other physical stresses and strains. Standard Insulon® materials include stainless steel, Inconel, titanium, and other alloys. Insulon® parts are rugged, long-lasting, and built to withstand the most challenging thermal environments.

Picture of a fractured piece of silica aerogel
Brittle silica aerogel can fracture easily

Insulation Thickness

Like aerogel technology, Insulon® has an extremely low profile compared to other types of insulation materials. Insulon® can drastically reduce heat transfer in just millimeters of design space — or less. For example, Insulon® Sheaths for Hypodermic Needles have less than 0.5 millimeters overall wall thickness.

Available geometries include straight and bent rigid tubes, flexible hoses, as well as cans, containers, and flasks. Length, diameter, and other variables are selected according to the needs of individual applications. While overall wall thickness may be adjusted, all Insulon® parts have exceptionally thin walls (in the order of millimeters).

Ultra thin vacuum insulated sleeve transports liquid nitrogen while maintaining safe-to-touch external surface
Insulon® Sheath transports liquid nitrogen (-321°C) while maintaining safe-to-touch external surface temperature

Insulation performance (thermal conductivity)

Insulon® parts are custom-designed to provide optimal thermal performance for individual applications. The R-value of vacuum insulation can be carefully adjusted using various parameters such as material selection, length, diameter, and wall thickness. Insulon® parts are able to deliver hundreds of degrees of temperature difference at both transient and steady states.