Thin is practical: This can be said about the new pre-insulated NanoSun2 pipe presented by Italian company Aktarus Group Srl at the heating fair ISH in Germany in March. The stainless steel piping is insulated with silica aerogel reinforced by fibre glass. The insulation material is produced in the US by Aspen Aerogels Inc. Thanks to a low thermal conductivity and a thickness of 5 mm, the insulation provides better protection than the common EPDM with a thickness of 13 to 14 mm.
Photo: Bärbel Epp
The Aktarus Group claims that the insulation can withstand temperatures of up to 200 °C. The company also emphasises the reduction in handling costs: The transport volume of Nanosun2 is one third smaller than the transport volume of a common double pre-insulated solar pipe.
The Aktarus Group already launched the product last autumn. Aktarus has so far been the only solar thermal company which uses the highly efficient US insulation material in Europe. “Silicon aerogels are 2.5 times thinner than mineral wool, but several times more expensive,” Mark Krajewski from Aspen Aerogels explains. “In a collector, they have the advantage that they do not outgas. And, you can save frame material”. According to Krajewski, the manufacturer has sent samples of the material to several collector manufacturers in Europe. Still, the price of the material seems to be a high hurdle, because each one of them has yet to decide on using this new insulation material.