Fuentek's Tech Transfer Blog

Super-High Temps Can’t Beat NASA’s Aerogel-Reinforced Composites: Licensing Opportunity

Researchers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have developed a patent-pending method for fabricating aerogel composites for thermal insulation applications — and NASA is now making this technology available for licensing.

NASA photo

Flexible aerogel composite provides thermal insulation to 1200 ºC. (NASA photo)

These low-density composites are super flexible (check out the photo!) and robust enough to withstand temperatures of up to 1,200 °C without flaking. These qualities — plus its lower weight and higher efficiency — make the innovation an ideal insulation material for the aerospace, military, aviation, and oil and gas industry applications such as:

  • Thermal protection systems (TPS)
  • Inflatable decelerators
  • Heat shields
  • Fire blankets
  • Radioisotope power systems
  • Thermoelectrics
  • High-performance clothing
  • Thermal seals and seals to reduce gas permeability

In fact, several commercial companies have already expressed interest in the technologies, and we’re helping with moving them down the technology transfer pipeline.

A Streamlined Licensing Opportunity

NASA’s award-winning engineer Frances Hurwitz developed the technology in collaboration with Ohio Aerospace Institute (OAI). In fact, the two organizations have a joint-ownership agreement (JOA) in place for the intellectual property (IP). The JOA specifies the roles and responsibilities for patent prosecution and technology marketing, and it authorizes NASA Glenn to represent OAI during license negotiations.

Quite frankly, this agreement is a big win for potential licensees:

  • Streamlines licensing: The JOA enables potential licensees to negotiate with one entity rather than two.
  • Facilitates exclusivity: The streamlining enabled by the JOA is particularly beneficial when working toward an exclusive license.
  • Enhances ongoing R&D: Having clear IP ownership means additional developments can progress in a more creative and collaborative context.
  • Establishes template for new collaborations: NASA Glenn can replicate this arrangement with other R&D partners to streamline licensing negotiations, with flexibility in the assignment of commercialization responsibilities.

I think OAI’s Ann Heyward said it best: “This agreement is a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to commercialization. Not only does it empower NASA to negotiate on OAI’s behalf, which is more resource efficient, but we’ve worked out in advance all of the issues that typically come up during licensing. This head-start will be a significant benefit for companies interested in our joint innovation, and it’s an approach we want to build on for the future.”

If you’d like to learn more about how Fuentek can help you employ these types of proactive strategies in your technology transfer activities — or if you’re interested in learning more about licensing the aerogel-reinforced compositescontact me here.  You can also read more about the successful joint-ownership agreement between NASA Glenn and OAI.