The people at NASA have every right to toot their own horn. They routinely send people into space, they’ve found water on the moon and they’ve sent a number of funny-looking ATVs off-roading on the surface of Mars. So I won’t hold it against them that they have their own NASA Spinoff magazine, showcasing the NASA-inspired products and technologies that have permeated into our everyday.
One such product that came across my desk is Thermablock. An aerogel product manufactured by Acoustiblok, Thermablock installs directly to the edges of wall studs, prior to the installation of drywall, to prevent “thermal bridging,” or heat loss due to conduction. As the most insulating technology known to man, aerogel was used to solve the space shuttle’s problem of keeping the liquid hydrogen (the shuttle’s fuel and also the second coldest liquid on the earth) at its maintained temperature of -423° F without causing a potentially hazardous build-up of ice on the outside of the external fuel tank and other parts of the fuel launching system. The flexible aerogel solution has since been used in numerous cold-weather applications, including pipelines and cold weather clothing.
As a wall stud insulating product, the Thermablok aerogel–installed as 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/12-inch wide peel-and-stick strips — can increase the wall insulation factor of a residence by as much 42%. In an example cited by Acoustiblok, this would reduce the annual energy costs of a typical 2,400 square foot Midwestern home by $700. No wonder then that Thermablok earned its place as one of NASA’s top 49 spinoff products of 2009.
There is talk of Thermablok distribution through Lowe’s and Home Depot. In the meantime, ask your homebuilder or contractor about using the product in any new home construction or renovation.