Levy Fellows Reflection with Mark Zaidi of Entropy Labs
In the 1930s, NASA created a material called aerogel, the lightest and most thermally resistant material ever created, even to date. Unfortunately, aerogel costs up to $134 per gram (over three times the cost of gold), thereby limiting its potential for innovative application.
Entropy Labs was created to solve this dilemma and make aerogels accessible. We focus on synthesizing aerogels at a much more affordable cost, as well as looking for applications of this material in a commercial setting. One field we are currently investigating is the material’s capacity to insulate buildings, by creating aerogel-based insulators such as paints and fiberglass composites. In 2007, 1,368,995 terajoules of energy from sources such as electricity, natural gas, oil, wood, and propane were used by Canadian homes. Incorporating aerogel insulators into these buildings would not only decrease the amount of energy used by buildings, but would also significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Entropy Labs would not be possible were it not for the unwavering support of the Brookfield Institute. Funds from the award were used to incorporate the company and cover various business expenditures. In addition to financial support, Zone Learning has been greatly beneficial to the growth of Entropy Labs. The Science Discovery Zone has provided us with a space to innovate and experiment with aerogels, as well as connections to other fields, such as architecture. We are able to synthesize aerogel, as well as create aerogel-based materials, through the lab space and chemicals provided by the SDZ.
We are always looking for new funding opportunities, as one of our current goals is to patent our process. This process can cost thousands of dollars. Thankfully, the funds from the Levy Fellows award have made a significant contribution towards achieving this goal. Further funding will also make it possible for us to expand to other industries to create aerogel clothing and biomedical innovations.
Co-Founder Mark Zaidi preparing a batch of aerogel. Photo: Clifton Li