Coupled Insulation and Fire Protection—Pyrogel

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Pyrogel XT is a coupled insulation and fire retardant silica aerogel used for insulation in high-temperature industrial applications.  The material can be used for insulating pipe fittings, vessels and equipment while preventing under insulation corrosion and reducing insulation thickness over conventional high-temperature industrial insulations.  Silica aerogel has the lowest known thermal conductivity of any known solid material, making it a great insulator.  Pyrogel XT is made of a silica aerogel nanopore material combined with a non-woven glass-fiber batting[1]

The silica aerogel matrix is fabricated through a number of different processes, with silicon alkoxide gelation being the most common[2].  This process involves reacting silicon alkoxides with water in a solvent, growing silica nanoparticles that aggregate into a nanopore structure.  The gel is then cured and stabilized before it is integrated into products such as Pyrogel XT.  This type of insulating fabric is a far cry from the carcinogenic asbestos applications of times past, and has no glass fibers, further reducing its human health impacts.


  1. Anon. Pyrogel XT.; 2012. Available from:
  2. Aerogels A. Silica Aerogel. Open Source Nanotech; Submitted. Available from:


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The addition of aerogel to glass fiber insulation has the functional effect of reduced thermal conductivity, increased breathability, and reduced thickness over conventional industrial insulation.





Benefit Summary: 

This product improves the thermal conductivity of industrial processes thus improving resource efficiency in industrial processes.


Risk Summary: 

The manufacture of silica aerogel is an in-situ process so there are no actual nanoparticles aerosolized. The risk lies in the manufacturing process, especially when silicon alkoxide gelation techniques are used. The vapor from silicon alkoxide gelation manufacturing is active and can create silica nanogel growth in lungs and sensitive mucus membranes if inhaled. Once cured and stabilized, the aerogel poses little human health risks beyond irritation from inhaling dust.

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