Aeroplastic refers to a family of polymeric composites with properties that provide a significant reduction in heat transfer. These composites reduce the thermal conductivity of the base polymer resin between 20%-50% without changing its mechanical properties or modifying the original techniques for processing those polymers. The composites can be made into fibers, molded, or otherwise processed into usable articles. Aeroplastic composites are superior alternatives to prior composite materials with respect to both their thermal conductivity and physical properties.
Researchers at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center have developed a new series of polymer composite materials. A material of this type can be made from a blend of thermoplastics — elastomers with appropriate aerogel and non-halogenated flame-retardant additives — and processed on normal polymer processing equipment. These materials are useful as substitutes for metals in cryogenic and other low-temperature applications with increased ductility, which are important terrestrially and in space exploration. One specific application of the polymeric composition is for use in tanks, pipes, valves, structural supports, and components for hot or cold fluid process systems where heat flow is not desired. Another use is in thermal barrier products for the construction industry, such as use in wood plastics. Sports equipment and performance apparel could be developed to take advantage of the temperature stability of the new material.
Potential applications include residential and commercial construction, automotive parts, refrigeration and refrigerated transport, chemical processing and fluid systems, aerospace vehicles, textiles, electronics, and military hardware.