Awardee – FORGE Product Development Grant
Most people don’t realize that buildings are one of the world’s leading sources of carbon emissions. Thirty to forty percent of the energy we put into homes and buildings to heat and cool them is lost through windows; even a new double-pane window is far less insulating than your walls or roof. AeroShield is working to develop super-insulating, transparent inserts to transform the window industry and save energy.
AeroShield’s technology is based on transparent silica aerogels developed during CEO Dr. Elise Strobach’s Ph.D. at MIT. Their material is made of 95% air trapped in nanoscale bubbles too small for the eye to see, making it both super light and super insulating. Just 3 mm of this material inside a double pane window improves the energy efficiency by 50 percent. AeroShield’s solid material is also thinner, lighter and less expensive than alternatives like triple-pane windows.
Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, AeroShield is one of 3 recipients of the recent round of FORGE’s Product Development Grant aimed at cleantech startups with female and non-binary leaders. Through FORGE, they also recently received funding through the collaborative MERT 2.0 (Manufacturing Emergency Response Team 2.0) Research and Prototyping Fund. The female-led aspect of this particular round of FORGE Product Development funding is especially meaningful to Dr. Elise Strobach, who is the co-founder, CEO and developer of AeroShield’s original technology.
“AeroShield is a company rooted in industries and fields of study in which female and non-binary individuals have been historically underrepresented,” Dr. Strobach explains. “That means we have the opportunity to not only disrupt with our technology but also with the way we build our team and develop organizational values. The FORGE grant supports and celebrates that disruption in a way that shows the world its importance – even to our own team (which includes me)! When there are so few role models in my industry to learn from and to give credibility to the vision I have for AeroShield as an impactful company, grants like these become an important symbol.”
Aaron Baskerville-Bridges, VP of Operations and Co-founder of AeroShield, shared that this round of funding from FORGE will primarily go toward developing bonding methods to adhere their unique aerogel to window panes. They are currently focused on taking the material developed by Dr. Strobach and figuring out how to effectively get it into windows. They will use the FORGE grant to develop a bonding process and get the right equipment to test and perfect it. Then they can bring that method to a repeatable scale.
AeroShield has worked with FORGE in a variety of ways throughout their development process. “FORGE has been fantastic for AeroShield. We have taken advantage of product development grants and also direct connections through FORGE for things like product design,” says Baskerville-Bridges. “Our team has also all been attending the Manufacturing Readiness Workshop Series, so we have been using that resource as well.”
Both Baskerville-Bridges and Dr. Strobach are excited to move forward with FORGE’s support. “I am honored to receive this investment in both the company and my leadership,” says Dr. Strobach. “I look forward to demonstrating how much impact we can create with this opportunity in order to encourage other female and non-binary individuals to find their passion in this industry.”
By the numbers
- 30-40% of building heating and cooling energy is lost through windows
- 3 mm of AeroShield’s material inside a double pane window makes it 50 percent more energy efficient
- Gas bubbles so small the naked eye can’t see them make up 95 percent of AeroShield’s solid material.