Thermalytica sees potential of high-end insulation materials for corporate ESG and consumer products

Staff reporter, DIGITIMES, Taipei 0

Thermalytica co-founder Eric Lee (left) and Founder & CTO Rudder Wu (right)

Thermalytica, a spin-off startup from Japan's National Institute of Materials Science (NIMS), has developed an ultra-low density and lightweight silica-based thermal insulation material. The material, TIISA, is revolutionary in its structure; its volume can expand up to ten times larger than traditional aerogel when compared at the same weight.

The company's CEO, Kazuo Konuma, formerly worked as a semiconductor researcher at NEC and has hands-on experience assisting NIMS in technology transfer. Founder and CTO, Rudder Wu, boasts years of dedicated research in insulation materials and envisions diverse applications for TIISA.

Everyday use cases encompass insulation paint for eco-friendly building exteriors, smart AIOT insulation windows for residential use, and outdoor gear suitable for everyone.

Wide use of insulation materials

Applying high-end insulation materials is key to reducing power consumption and carbon emissions because it creates a thermal barrier that shields heat from entering or leaking. Insulation is needed in many fields, ranging from buildings, factories, industrial equipment, electronics, data centers, lithium batteries for EVs and green energy storage, functional textiles, cryogenic transportation storage of liquid hydrogen.

Silica powder is drawing close attention for its excellent insulation properties as production costs decline and technology improves. As the world calls for higher ESG compliance and net-zero carbon emissions, everyone is looking for better ways to improve energy efficiency and to make human activities more sustainable.

TIISA, which stands for "thermal insulation inflatable solid air", contains over 99% air and comprises nanometer-sized particles. The material has high fluidity and can shield heat up to 1,300 degrees Celsius. Comparing with traditional insulation materials, TIISA has significantly low thermal conductivity.

Wu recognizes the substantial demand for curbing heat loss and reducing carbon emissions. If a layer of thermal insulation material could be applied to the industrial ovens and high-temperature pipes, he said, it could significantly reduce energy loss for the factory.

Meanwhile, the company has received many requests from Taiwan's ICT manufacturers seeking solutions for managing heat dissipation. While heat insulation and dissipation represent separate mechanisms, said the company's research engineer, Eric Lee, insulation material could be applied in consumer electronics to protect temperature-sensitive components, such as cameras and batteries, from the dissipated heat and complement heat management for electronics.

Production commercialization

The team is currently constructing a pilot production facility in its headquarters city, Tsukuba, Japan. Ryo Sasamoto, head of corporate strategy at Thermalytica, said his objective over the next five years is to increase annual production capacity to ten tonnes.

Sasamoto emphasized that Taiwan would be among Thermalytica's early target markets. The company also plans to expand globally, including into other Southeast Asian countries and the US, where they have connected with potential investors.

The company garnered recognition in both Japan and Taiwan, having been chosen by a Taiwanese incubator, Garage Plus, and the Hsinchu county government as a promising startup. It has also been chosen by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) as J-startup this year. The company has been engaging with Taiwanese manufacturers since then.

In Tsukuba, the company has been given an opportunity to verify its thermal insulation paint on a public building later this year. The project will be funded and supported by the local government.

Thermalytica will be showcasing TIISA at TIE Awards in Taipei on October 12-14 and is seeking collaborations with local producers and suppliers across steel production, automotive, electronics, textile, chemicals, and green energy.

The company also plans to start the next round of fundraising in 2024.

Thermalytica TIISA monolith, a translucent aerogel

Thermalytica TIISA monolith, a translucent aerogel

Thermalytica TIISA, a fluid-like silica-based powder

Thermalytica TIISA, a fluid-like silica-based powder