PI: Ganesh Balasubramanian
University: Lehigh University

Research and development of novel, low cost, vacuum insulation panels (VIP) for improving the energy efficiency of existing and new buildings are being proposed. Though VIP technology is well-known in appliance industry, a longer lifetime with substantially lower cost is needed for adoption in building industry. In this project, we aim to design low-cost microporous silica-based composite core materials with significantly reduced thermal conductivity and low sensitivity to gas pressure. A transformative approach to design of core material, coupled with simpler barrier system will provide a cost-effective, superior insulation envelope for existing and new buildings.

To accomplish this, we will pursue a computational-materials-engineering-guided approach of encapsulating aerogels in VIPs, and effectively predicting the variation in thermal conductance and resistance as a function of porosity, pressure, and presence of nano-fillers. The computational design will be improved with feedback from materials characterization and measurements of thermal properties. Through this industry-university partnership and with leverage support from NSF, the graduate student will be able to participate in cutting-edge building energy management technology, contribute to fundamental research in materials development, and potentially engage in product development and commercialization in collaboration with a PA company.