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Exclusive: AeroShield raises $4M for space gel

A circular slice of transparent aerogel is held in front of the Boston skyline.

A circular slice of transparent aerogel. Photo: Courtesy of AeroShield.

AeroShield raised $4 million in seed funding for its technology that takes spacecraft insulation and puts it on your home's windows, the company tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: Windows leak huge amounts of heat and cooling. AeroShield says its transparent coating can slash those losses by as much as 65%.

Details: AeroShield Materials, based in the Boston area, closed the seed round last month, with MassVentures, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and Good Ventures participating.

  • In June, the company received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

Context: Heat gain and cooling loss through windows can drive 30% of a homeowner's heating and electric bill.

  • Window manufacturers decades ago developed so-called "low-emissivity" or "low-e" glass. The greatest innovation since then: slapping on another layer of glass.
  • These "triple-pane" windows are expensive — and account for less than 5% of the U.S. market.

How it works: Silica aerogel was developed in the 1930s, but became commonly used to insulate spacecraft. The material diffuses light similarly to Earth's atmosphere and gives off a similar blue hue.

  • AeroShield's team figured out how to make the material clear.

The intrigue: You may have heard of "dynamic glazing" — material that automatically tints in reaction to sunlight.

  • Dynamic glazing and aerogel each sit on a different layer of glass. The two materials can potentially be paired for maximum insulation.

What they're saying: "There’s pretty strong evidence that we’ll be able to do this for less than a triple-pane," co-founder and vice president Aaron Baskerville-Bridges tells Axios.

  • "The payback, even without the incentives, is five years or less. That’s our target."

What's next: AeroShield is testing its product with manufacturers. It plans to have pilot installations next year, including with one of the national labs.

  • The company aims to bring a consumer product to market in 2024. It's starting with the residential sector, where windows tend to be smaller.

👀 What we're watching: AeroShield has aspirations beyond windows, including grocery store freezer aisles, oven doors, car windows and even capturing sun-generated heat for industrial processes.

  • "We put a sheet of painted black metal on the roof at MIT, and put the aerogel on top of it, in winter in Boston," Baskerville-Bridges says. "It got up to 400-something degrees."

One fun thing: AeroShield might be one of the only companies that could prove its product during Zoom meetings. While pitching investors on Zoom, they'd say with a flourish: "We have a super-clear aerogel — and if you don’t believe me, we've been presenting through an aerogel this whole time."

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