Scalable anisotropic cooling aerogels by additive freeze-casting

Kit Ying Chan, Xi Shen, Jie Yang, Keng Te Lin, Harun Venkatesan, Eunyoung Kim, Heng Zhang, Jeng Hun Lee, Jinhong Yu, Jinglei Yang, Jang Kyo Kim

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Cooling in buildings is vital to human well-being but inevitability consumes significant energy, adding pressure on achieving carbon neutrality. Thermally superinsulating aerogels are promising to isolate the heat for more energy-efficient cooling. However, most aerogels tend to absorb the sunlight for unwanted solar heat gain, and it is challenging to scale up the aerogel fabrication while maintaining consistent properties. Herein, we develop a thermally insulating, solar-reflective anisotropic cooling aerogel panel containing in-plane aligned pores with engineered pore walls using boron nitride nanosheets by an additive freeze-casting technique. The additive freeze-casting offers highly controllable and cumulative freezing dynamics for fabricating decimeter-scale aerogel panels with consistent in-plane pore alignments. The unique anisotropic thermo-optical properties of the nanosheets combined with in-plane pore channels enable the anisotropic cooling aerogel to deliver an ultralow out-of-plane thermal conductivity of 16.9 mW m−1 K−1 and a high solar reflectance of 97%. The excellent dual functionalities allow the anisotropic cooling aerogel to minimize both parasitic and solar heat gains when used as cooling panels under direct sunlight, achieving an up to 7 °C lower interior temperature than commercial silica aerogels. This work offers a new paradigm for the bottom-up fabrication of scalable anisotropic aerogels towards practical energy-efficient cooling applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5553
JournalNature Communications
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General
  • General Physics and Astronomy

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