Vision and Strategy
We will be the most innovative, respected and responsible leader in our markets – delivering performance that makes a difference. Our strategy is to extend our leadership in performance materials by investing for growth in our core businesses, driving application innovation with our customers, and generating strong cash flows through efficiency and optimization.
With approximately 6 000 employees between our self’s and our business partners including different departments of the North West University our customers appreciate our global leadership positions In the industries we serve and our commitment to helping them grow wherever they do business. Our people are driven and inventive, and they represent some of the best technical, commercial and manufacturing talent in the industry.
We value integrity, respect, excellence and responsibility. We are committed to living these values every day as they are an integral part of the way we conduct business with our partners, customers, distributors, shareholders and colleagues.
The power of Dry Tech Aerogels is that we combine this knowledge with our Global and National Business Partners where we have selected the best possible in their fields of Aerogel and Nano product development at the best price.
We are committed to improving our energy efficiency and process technology across our entire National footprint. We operate with sustainable business practices and our National B-BBEE contribution levels to ensure the well-being of our employees, customers and our surrounded communities.
About Dry-Tech Aerogels
Dry-Tech Aerogels is a leading speciality chemical and performance materials company headquartered in the Vaal Triangle, Gauteng, South Africa.
Our business delivers a wide range of products for specialised applications and solutions in any corner of the Globe, serving industries such as Petro Chemical, Steel, Transport, Infrastructure environment and consumer. We provide performance solutions that solve customer challenges today with the latest technological developments while preparing them to meet tomorrow’s needs. Our commitment to innovation is driven by a passion to advance our customers businesses through our deep understanding of their industries and the global trends that impact their operations.
Aerogel is a synthetic porous ultralight material derived from a gel, in which the liquid component of the gel has been replaced with a gas. The result is a solid with extremely low density and low thermal conductivity. Nicknames include frozen smoke, solid smoke, solid air, or blue smoke owing to its translucent nature and the way light scatters in the material. It feels like fragile expanded polystyrene to the touch. Aerogels can be made from a variety of chemical compounds.
Aerogel was first created by Samuel Stephens Kistler in 1931, as a result of a bet with Charles Learned over who could replace the liquid in "jellies" with gas without causing shrinkage.
Aerogels are produced by extracting the liquid component of a gel through supercritical drying. This allows the liquid to be slowly dried off without causing the solid matrix in the gel to collapse from capillary action, as would happen with conventional evaporation. The first aerogels were produced from silica gels. Kistler's later work involved aerogels based on alumina, chromia and tin dioxide. Carbon aerogels were first developed in the late 1980s.
Aerogel does not have a designated material with set chemical formula but the term is used to group all the material with a certain geometric structure.
Crayons on a piece of aerogel which is suspended over a flame 2 000 ⁰C, from a Bunsen burner. Aerogel has excellent insulating properties, and the crayons are protected from the flame.
Despite their name, aerogels are solid, rigid, and dry materials that do not resemble a gel in their physical properties: The name comes from the fact that they are made from gels. Pressing softly on an aerogel typically does not leave even a minor mark; pressing more firmly will leave a permanent depression. Pressing extremely firmly will cause a catastrophic breakdown in the sparse structure, causing it to shatter like glass – a property known as friability; although more modern variations do not suffer from this. Despite the fact that it is prone to shattering, it is very strong structurally. Its impressive load bearing abilities are due to the dendritic microstructure, in which spherical particles of average size (2–5 nm) are fused together into clusters. These clusters form a three-dimensional highly porous structure of almost fractal chains, with pores just under 100 nm. The average size and density of the pores can be controlled during the manufacturing process.
Aerogel is a material that is 98.2% air. Aerogel has a porous solid network that contains air pockets, with the air pockets taking up majority of space within the material. The lack of solid material allows aerogel to be almost weightless.
Aerogels are good thermal insulators because they almost nullify two of the three methods of heat transfer (convection, conduction, and radiation). They are good conductive insulators because they are composed almost entirely of gas, which are very poor heat conductors. (Silica aerogel is especially good because silica is also a poor conductor of heat; a metallic or carbon aerogel, on the other hand, would be less effective.) They are good convective inhibitors because air cannot circulate through the lattice. Aerogels are poor radiative insulators because infrared radiation (which transfers heat) passes through them.
Owing to its hygroscopic nature, aerogel feels dry and acts as a strong desiccant. People handling aerogel for extended periods should wear gloves to prevent the appearance of dry brittle spots on their skin.
The slight color it does have is due to Rayleigh scattering of the shorter wavelengths of visible light by the nano-sized dendritic structure. This causes it to appear smoky blue against dark backgrounds and yellowish against bright backgrounds.
Aerogels by themselves are hydrophilic, but chemical treatment can make them hydrophobic. If they absorb moisture they usually suffer a structural change, such as contraction, and deteriorate, but degradation can be prevented by making them hydrophobic. Aerogels with hydrophobic interiors are less susceptible to degradation than aerogels with only an outer hydrophobic layer, even if a crack penetrates the surface.