AERoGELS COST Action – An EU Initiative on Aerogels for Biomedical and Environmental Applications

AERoGELS COST Action – An update from the EU initiative on aerogels: Recent digital and future in-person activities

AERoGELS COST Action, the initiative for the valorisation of aerogels funded by the European Commission, is building its activities across Europe and beyond for promoting awareness of aerogel technology and for reinforcing existing and building new collaborations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the digital presence of the AERoGELS COST Action has been reinforced with a stronger presence in social media, participation in the organisation of online events (Online Aerogel Seminar 2020, and Meeting on Advices and Regulatory Aspects on Health Risk, LCA and Production Management of Aerogels), the publication of technical papers in Open Access on aerogels for pharmaceutical and food applications as well as from a biorefinery approach.

The AERoGELS COST Action will restart the organisation of in-person activities during the 2021 northern-hemisphere Summer with an industry-academia forum and a training school. The “Aerogel Industry-Academia Forum” will take place at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) in Dübendorf on 13-15 July 2021. In this event, the rapid development of the aerogel world will be outlined. On the industry side, new players are entering the market. New aerogel producers, including start-ups but also established materials manufacturers, introduce their products, compete for market share, or aim to develop new applications and markets. In the meantime, traditional manufacturers are also innovating. Silica aerogel remains the most important product, but polymer and biopolymer aerogels are becoming available as well. Other companies are focusing on developing process technologies or aerogel-based product development. On the academic side, there has been a veritable explosion of research into understanding traditional aerogel materials and applications, as well as new aerogel materials combinations, new precursors and sustainable raw materials, new aerogel synthesis routes and new potential applications. In this event, there will be representatives from industry (aerogel producers, technology providers, raw material suppliers, formulators, end-users), policy-makers (NGOs, EC-representatives, funding agencies), regulatory entities and academia (aerogel process engineering field, as well as from application-oriented research in the biomedical, toxicological, environmental remediation, catalysis and thermal insulation fields).

Finally, a training school on “Advanced processing and characterization of aerogels ” will be organised on 7-9 July 2021 at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow (Poland) targeting an audience of PhD students, young postdocs and industrial partners. It comprises invited presentations focused on nanomaterials characterisation, particularly of aerogels and fibers, delivered by recognized specialists in the field from all over Europe. Trainees will have the opportunity to share their research work with short oral and poster presentations.

The AERoGELS COST Action involves over 350 participants. It assembles the knowledge on research and technology of aerogels at the international level of more than 200 institutions from academia, industry and regulatory experts. In the AERoGELS COST Action, the use of aerogels is mainly focused on environmental (treatment and removal of pollutants, energy management, life cycle analysis) and life sciences (pharma, biomedical, food) applications. Structure-properties correlations, regulatory aspects and circular economy approaches will be combined.

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