Aerogels: Revolutionizing the Construction Industry with Low-Carbon Solutions

In a paper published in the journal Case Studies in Construction Materials, researchers explored the use of SiO2 aerogel in low-carbon building materials. They focused on the impact of the aerogel’s type, morphology, and pore structure on CO2 adsorption. The study also proposed amino modification as a means to enhance the aerogel’s adsorption capacity.

Aerogels in Low-Carbon Building for CO2 Adsorption
Synthesis flow chart of polyimide aerogel (a) and polyimide aerogel prepared by mold (b). Image Credit:

Addressing CO2 Emissions

The construction sector significantly contributes to global CO2 emissions due to its high energy consumption and carbon output. With the pressing need highlighted by international agreements like the Paris Agreement, innovative solutions are required to curb emissions and manage global temperature rises.

The integration of aerogels into cement composites represents a promising advancement towards low-carbon construction. Aerogels are not only employed as thermal insulators but also as active carbon adsorbents, positioning them as vital components in achieving global carbon neutrality.

This study explored the potential of integrating aerogels into cement composites as a promising advancement toward low-carbon construction. By serving as both thermal insulators and active carbon adsorbents, aerogels play a crucial role in mitigating CO2 emissions from the construction sector.

Aerogels: Properties, Pioneering, Advancements

Aerogels are renowned for their remarkable properties, such as high porosity, extensive surface area, and low thermal conductivity. These characteristics make them highly effective for a variety of applications, particularly in CO2 adsorption. By leveraging the CO2 adsorption capabilities of aerogels, there is potential to develop multifunctional building materials that offer both thermal insulation and carbon capture, contributing significantly to low-carbon construction initiatives.

The journey of aerogel technology began with the pioneering work of Samuel Kistler in the 1930s, who laid the groundwork for aerogel production. Despite its promising attributes, the complexity and high costs associated with early aerogel production posed considerable challenges.

Significant strides were made with the introduction of organic alkoxides, such as methyl orthosilicate (TMOS), which streamlined the production of silica aerogels via the sol-gel process under supercritical conditions. This method marked a pivotal advance, making the production more feasible and scalable.

The use of ethyl orthosilicate (TEOS) with CO2 as the drying medium further demonstrated the potential for industrial-scale production of transparent silica aerogels. The critical temperature of CO2, being close to room temperature, has made it an especially suitable medium for aerogel production, sparking increased research and interest globally.

Exploring the Versatility of Aerogels for Carbon Capture

According to the researchers, recent studies have explored a diverse range of aerogels—including inorganic SiO2, organic cellulose, polyimide, carbon, metal, and composite aerogels—for their carbon adsorption capacities. SiO2 aerogels, in particular, have shown promising results; their CO2 adsorption capabilities can be significantly enhanced through amino modification.

Nanocellulose aerogels have also been a stand out due to their renewable and environmentally friendly properties. When modified with amino groups, these aerogels have shown potential as effective CO2 adsorbents. Moreover, research into nitrogen-doped carbon aerogels and graphene aerogels has highlighted the robust CO2 adsorption potential of polyimide aerogels.

These advancements provide critical insights into the development of aerogel-based materials aimed at enhancing carbon capture and addressing the challenges of industrial flue gas emissions.

Aerogel Advancements: Enhancing Insulation in Building Materials

SiO2 aerogels, with their exceptional thermal insulation properties, are increasingly used in cement-based building materials. Their nano-porous structure and three-dimensional network of nanoparticles effectively obstruct heat conduction and block infrared thermal radiation.

However, incorporating SiO2 aerogel into cement-based composites presents challenges, including achieving uniform mixing and addressing hydrophilicity issues. The researchers thus emphasized the need to explore various methods, such as modifying the aerogel surface and incorporating supplementary cementing materials, to improve the mechanical properties of aerogel-incorporated materials.

Despite these challenges, SiO2 aerogels have been found to significantly reduce thermal conductivity, thereby boosting insulation performance with higher aerogel content, promising advancements for energy-efficient construction.

Innovative Building Materials

Aerogel carbon adsorption technology holds significant promise for developing innovative building materials. Integrating aerogel into cementitious mixtures gives rise to a novel class of materials with lightweight, thermally insulated, fire-resistant, and carbon-capturing properties. Incorporating amino-modified aerogel into cementitious materials shows promise for bolstering carbon adsorption in the presence of water, which facilitates the process.

Researchers are thus investigating various solutions, such as modifying the aerogel's surface and adding supplementary cementing materials to enhance the mechanical properties of materials that incorporate aerogels. Despite these hurdles, SiO2 aerogel reduces thermal conductivity, thereby improving insulation performance as its content increases. This progress in aerogel-based building materials shows great potential for energy-efficient construction solutions.


To sum up, this paper reviewed the carbon adsorption capabilities of aerogels and their utilization in building materials by focusing on SiO2 aerogel. The potential of SiO2 aerogel-incorporated low-carbon building materials was prepared through carbon adsorption and carbonization technology. Key findings included the effectiveness of amino modification for enhancing CO2 adsorption, the role of water in increasing aerogel's CO2 adsorption capacity, and the challenges associated with aerogel's physical and mechanical properties in cement-based composites.

Further research is needed to optimize aerogel types, microstructures, and modification methods to develop standardized procedures for measuring CO2 capture and carbon fixation rates. Additionally, advancements in aerogel-based solid waste building materials and carbonization curing processes are essential for promoting emission reduction and resource utilization in the construction industry.

Journal Reference

Jia, G., et al. (2024). CO2 Adsorption Properties of Aerogel and Application Prospects in Low-Carbon Building Materials: A Review. Case Studies in Construction Materials, 20, e03171.,

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Article Revisions

  • Apr 24 2024 - Title changed from "Aerogels in Low-Carbon Building for CO2 Adsorption " to "Aerogels: Revolutionizing the Construction Industry with Low-Carbon Solutions "
  • Apr 24 2024 - Added the sentence "This study explored the potential of integrating aerogels into cement composites as a promising advancement toward low-carbon construction. By serving as both thermal insulators and active carbon adsorbents, aerogels play a crucial role in mitigating CO2 emissions from the construction sector."
Silpaja Chandrasekar

Written by

Silpaja Chandrasekar

Dr. Silpaja Chandrasekar has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Anna University, Chennai. Her research expertise lies in analyzing traffic parameters under challenging environmental conditions. Additionally, she has gained valuable exposure to diverse research areas, such as detection, tracking, classification, medical image analysis, cancer cell detection, chemistry, and Hamiltonian walks.


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