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Space-Gels -- Aerogels for insulation and contaminant degradation in habitats and spaceships



Organisational Unit
19 June 2024

Duration: 18 months


Effective thermal insulation and safe indoor air quality are major technological issues for habitats and vehicles in space. Today, both are realized with separate systems: Insulation systems are placed in vacuum that deteriorates over time. Regarding indoor air quality in space stations, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are generally trapped using adsorbent beds that require either replacement or active regeneration. Our consortium, consisting of Spartan Space, a company specializing in the development of habitation systems for space, the Fraunhofer WKI, experts regarding indoor air quality, and DLR, experts in the field of aerogels and space applications, proposes a hitherto unprecedented use of titania aerogels as bifunctional component for thermal protection and cleaning of air within spaceships or habitats. Regeneration will be realized by employment of photocatalytically active aerogels. Illumination can be installed with fibre-optic for VOC degradation by photochemical oxidation. Resulting products are expected to be CO2 and water, which can easily be handled by the classical systems. For an effective process, an active air stream has to be set up through the wall unit. The material has to be designed in a way that no particles are emitted into the indoor environment. Aerogels are also light-weight, superinsulators. Therefore, upon implementation of our novel concept a combination of air cleaning and insulation can be realized. Within this project, depending how thermal insulation and adsorption/degradation can be balanced, the potential of the material as component of a multilayer habitat wall shall be demonstrated. Development and scale-up of aerogel material and full evaluation of its adsorptive and degradative properties will be implemented. This technology could complement the existing systems.

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Space-Gels -- Aerogels for insulation and contaminant degradation in habitats and spaceships