Diversification becomes essential for the aerogel industry

By Dr Richard Collins, Technology Analyst, IDTechEx

The 21st-century commercialisation of the aerogel industry has been extensively discussed, but despite the excitement and huge potential, it is still a long way from plain sailing for the manufacturers.

Looking back on the failed commercial aerogel attempts in the 20th century, such as those from Monsanto in the 40s and BASF in the 80s, it is easy to see that this industry can quickly decline.

Advanced manufacturing procedures, greater awareness, and novel composite and polymeric materials have all helped the aerogel industry to reach a previously unreached level of maturity. However, the industry needs to diversify to thrive.

At present, the majority of business comes from the oil and gas sector. These use silica composite blankets for insulative purposes from refineries to subsea pipelines. The combination of properties: lightweight, hydrophobic, highly thermal insulative, and more make this material the perfect choice – see our previous article about how aerogel products are answering industries toughest questions. Like all emerging materials, aerogel products are not cheap compared to the incumbent and have somewhat depended on the previously deep pockets (and high requirements) of this sector to grow.

It is perhaps an understatement to say that the peak of the oil and gas industry is behind us, and that this sector cannot be guaranteed to pull in the same revenue looking forward as it has looking back. A clear and worrying parallel can be drawn between the stock price of the market leader, Aspen Aerogel (ASPN), and the performance of crude oil (see chart below). At the end of last year, Aspen Aerogel announced a delay on building their second manufacturing plant, which in part can be attributed to these challenges as they “better pace the project against our assessment of demand for the 2018-2020 timeframe”. In the first quarter this year they announced a nearly $10m revenue decrease versus last year’s first quarter mainly due to “lower activity levels in the subsea market”.

2017 06 22 113719The orange line represents the oil industry (Bloomberg WTI Crude Oil Subindex) and the blue line represents Aspen Aerogel stock price (ASPN). Source: Financial Times

The key to survival is to diversify and expand into emerging applications; this will reduce the dependence on the cost and performance of oil and gas. The applications already gaining some prominence are insulation for industrial needs, building and construction, and district energy. Getting only a small piece of these large pies will not just mean survival, but great success for the manufacturers, and the sooner it happens the better.

Looking further ahead, the attention that aerogels have received is ever-increasing and there are exciting roles that are yet to be even partially exploited. These include electrical systems, aerospace, packaging, cosmetics, and apparel just to name a few. As a result, this market has a great potential and has the possibility to diversify further still down the road. See a previous article for more on these new directions.

IDTechEx remain at the forefront of analysing the aerogel market and have provided an updated forecast that reflects these opportunities and the challenges faced, the market is expected to reach $910m by 2027. The essential diversification is predicted to occur within the next decade and is reflected in the infographic below. To see the full analysis, see the IDTechEx report at

2017 06 22 113834

Global aerogel application forecast by industry sector. Source: IDTechEx Research report 'Aerogels 2017-2027: Technologies, Markets and Players' (

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S-Oil Corporation uses technical expertise from Lloyd’s Register

Coupled with its vast proven technical experience, we believe LR’s continued responsiveness will be pivotal in accelerating our momentum to successful project completion in 2018.

S-Oil Corporation uses technical expertise from Lloyd’s Register for risk-based inspection analysis of it USD $4.2 billion integrated RUC/ODC project in Korea

213 32326 Corporate Site LogoLloyd’s Register (LR), the leading provider of engineering and technology-centric professional services, is awarded a new contract from S-Oil Corporation (S-Oil) covering the implementation of a fully integrated risk-based inspection (RBI) system. The contract which is for S-OIL’s largest investment project – a new USD $4.2 billion residue upgrading and Olefin downstream complex (RUC/ODC) plant in Ulsan, Korea – will commence this month.

“We are delighted that S-OIL has decided to adopt our Axxim software package to make its management of failure probability more systematic and efficient. In extending our RBI services to S-OIL’s strategic RUC/ODC project, we eagerly anticipate helping S-Oil successfully realise its goal to modernize and expand its integrated refining and petrochemical operations,” said Mr. Pyeong-Sik Shin, Asset Integrity and Development Solutions Manager at LR in Korea.

The new contract will see LR deliver additional RBI consultancy services across areas such as systems, software training, and inspection management modules. LR’s team of experts will also assist in the selection of thickness measurement locations for equipment and pipes.
“We have been working with LR’s in-house experts for some time. Apart from its high-quality RBI Software (Axxim) and RBI resources, the team’s expertise in corrosion specialties such as Propylene Oxide and Polypropylene Units will bring tremendous value to new processes at the integrated RUC/ODC complex,” said Mr. Dong-Hak Lee, S-OIL’s Inspection Department Manager.

“Coupled with its vast proven technical experience, we believe LR’s continued responsiveness will be pivotal in accelerating our momentum to successful project completion in 2018. This will in turn ensure S-OIL can improve its profitability and achieve long-term competitiveness by converting low-cost heavier hydrocarbons into high-value olefins and fuels.”

D.J. Schuld, Area Manager Operations for LR’s Asset Integrity Services, highlights: “This contract is further proof that LR is developing ‘best-in-class’ software and technology applications for tomorrow’s Industry 4.0. We are working in close collaboration with many customers all over the world creating better value for their businesses by applying innovative data and digital solutions that help deliver better business performance, increased efficiencies and improved risk management. It is an exciting time - we are connecting technology and people to provide deep knowledge on how to be at the forefront of managing plants and infrastructure safely and effectively.”

About Lloyd’s Register 
Lloyd’s Register (LR) is a global engineering, technical and business services organisation wholly owned by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, a UK charity dedicated to research and education in science and engineering. Founded in 1760 as a marine classification society, LR now operates across many energy industry sectors, with around 9,000 employees in the Group across 78 countries.

LR has a long-standing reputation for integrity, impartiality and technical excellence. Our compliance, risk and technical consultancy services give clients confidence that their assets and businesses are safe, sustainable and dependable. Through our global technology centres and research network, LR is at the forefront of understanding the application of new science and technology to future-proof our clients’ businesses.

About S-Oil Corporation 
S-Oil Corporation, together with its subsidiary, S-International Ltd., manufactures and sells oil refining, lube, and petrochemical products in South Korea. It operates three crude distillation units with a capacity of 669,000 barrels a day; a bunker-C cracking centre that produces light oil products, such as gasoline, diesel, and kerosene; and light oil desulfurizing and gasoline manufacturing facilities. The company’s lube products comprise lube base oils and lubricants; and petrochemical products include benzene, toluene, xylene, and para-xylene. It also imports and exports crude oil and products. The company was founded in 1976 and is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. S-Oil Corporation is a subsidiary of Aramco Overseas Company B.V. (Source:


Proserv Middle East secures multiple contract awards

Energy services company Proserv has been awarded a series of contracts worth a combined value of more than $11million USD for its production control new-build and after-market services in the Middle East.

In the UAE, Proserv will be engineering and manufacturing wellhead control panels, hydraulic power units (HPUs) and chemical injection systems to national oil companies, service companies and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies, estimated to be worth around $10m. Key to the awards is the strong installation, commissioning and life of field service offering that is unique to Proserv in the region.

2017 06 20 094625Proserv has secured several contracts for its production control new-build and after-market services.

Earlier in the year, Proserv officially opened its new Saudi Arabia facility and the company has recently secured its first orders for the provision of preventive maintenance and support services for HPUs in the Kingdom for its installed base of equipment. The second win for the team involved the manufacturing and supply of emergency shutdown systems. All orders are expected to be delivered in Q3 and Q4 of this year.

Proserv has invested significantly in its new facility in Saudi Arabia in order to expand its local manufacturing, project execution and service capabilities. The new 1,800-sq-m facility, located in Dammam, in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia, will provide engineering, manufacturing, commissioning, after-market support and training services to onshore and offshore clients.

Andy Anderson, region president for Middle East & Africa, said: “We have enjoyed a strong start to the year and expect this success to continue based on our growing market presence and unparalleled experience in the region for life of field services.

“At Proserv, we pride ourselves on our engineering talent and expertise which is supported by a long standing track record of more than 40 years. These recent contract awards reflect our clients’ confidence in our ability to provide the highest standards of service and support in order to enhance the productivity and efficiency of their operations.”

Proserv is a technology-driven company providing products, services and bespoke solutions to clients across the drilling, production and decommissioning market sectors. In the Middle East region, Proserv has operations in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Saudi Arabia and employs around 275 people.

Globally, Proserv operates worldwide through 22 operating centres based in 12 countries and the company has won a string of industry awards over the years in recognition of its business success and technology achievements.


New Microsoft Dynamics Business to Help Oil & Gas Companies Improve Productivity

Evolve iMS aims to revolutionise UK firms with latest cloud-based technology

New Microsoft Dynamics Company Positioned for Success

A new Aberdeen-based company which aims to help businesses transform their processes and dramatically improve productivity with the latest Microsoft Dynamics technology has officially launched today (Tuesday 23rd May).

Evolve iMS (information Management Systems) is an independent start-up focussed on supporting companies in the oil and gas, construction and consultancy sectors to manage their business with an easy-to-use global ERP (enterprise resource planning) solution.

Evolve iMS has the ability to change the way firms do business with their customers and their suppliers, allowing all financial, inventory management, project management and human resource information to be stored and managed in one centralised database.

The privately funded company which has already secured contracts totalling £200,000 aims to become a leading ERP solutions provider within the next three years, having the expertise and capacity to equip companies with the tools required to effectively log, track and access vital data required to run and grow their business.

2017 06 20 094012Led by director and co-founder, Clarke Shepherd, Evolve iMS will be headed up by service delivery manager, Lisa Reid, and Toby Crowther, technical consultant, who both have extensive experience in ERP development, having previously worked with well-established ERP and IT firms across the UK and overseas.

The company currently employs four people and has plans to recruit another three over the next three months. With its first few contracts already secured and a number of projects in the pipeline, Evolve iMS expects to further expand its workforce within the next six months.

Realising that there was a growing number of companies across Scotland using Microsoft Dynamics to streamline their operations, Evolve iMS saw an opportunity to become one of the first Aberdeen-based companies to specialise in the supply, implementation and development of the software.

Evolve iMS director, Clarke Shepherd commented: “As technology continues to evolve, it’s vital that the business world keeps up to ensure it is benefiting from modern systems and processes which can do exactly what they want in a lean and agile way. With Microsoft Dynamics, companies can gain complete control over what’s going on in their business, and therefore have the ability to make smarter decisions that impact their margins and drive profitable growth.

“Our aim is to bring better, more sustainable solutions to the market. By offering the latest software solutions and business systems, coupled with round the clock expert support, we can ensure that companies of all sizes can simplify processes, boost productivity and drive growth.

“The systems we provide can be tailored to suit the needs of businesses operating in the energy, construction, waste management, logistics, professional services and food and drink sectors. It allows companies to monitor business performance from every possible angle, at the touch of a button. The software has been designed to empower people to be more productive, so they can respond more quickly and effectively in the ever-changing world of business.”

Unlike many ERP solutions on the market, Microsoft Dynamics can be synced with existing applications to quickly and simply streamline all software packages. 

Ms Reid added: “Time is a precious commodity in the business world. If a system fails or drops out for a couple of hours, the consequences can be costly. 

“We’re moving towards a new way of looking at data, one that applies best-practice business processes to fast growing companies. With access to a wide range of analytical and reporting tools, people can make informed, confident decisions that directly impact their bottom line.

evolve logo“At Evolve iMS, we understand that in today’s world, companies generate huge amounts of internal data but struggle to use it in any meaningful way. Evolve iMS provides software solutions that will help to revolutionise the way businesses analyse big data. With our expert team at hand, we can pass on our comprehensive knowledge and experience to benefit our customers and help them realise the full potential of that data, whilst ensuring we remain at the forefront of leading edge software and ERP development.”

Evolve iMS specialises in the supply, implementation and support of Microsoft Dynamics solutions.

For more information about Evolve iMS visit


Schlumberger Signs Memorandum of Understanding with Saudi Aramco

Agreement reinforces In-Kingdom Total Value Add program and confirms long-term commitment to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Schlumberger has just signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Aramco to develop an In-Kingdom Total Value Add roadmap, in alignment with the Kingdom’s economic vision for 2030.

logo slb headerThe Schlumberger In-Kingdom Total Value Add roadmap includes the creation of jobs and enables development opportunities for Saudis in oil and gas services and related sectors. The roadmap also strengthens the deployment of Schlumberger technology, reduces regional delivery times for key products and services, and increases local capacity and deployment capabilities.

“For more than 75 years, Schlumberger has supported Saudi Aramco and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s oil and gas industry through an unwavering commitment to train and develop Saudi talent, and through a comprehensive portfolio of technologies, execution of integrated projects, and world-class research collaboration,” said Paal Kibsgaard, Chairman and CEO, Schlumberger.

In 1964, the Arabian Drilling Company was established as a partnership between the General Petroleum and Minerals Organization (Petromin) and Schlumberger affiliate companies. Later in 2006, Schlumberger pioneered its Dhahran Carbonate Research Center, located close to King Fahd University with a focus on Geology and Rock Physics and Production Completion and Recovery projects in the Middle East region. In addition, Schlumberger has in-country manufacturing capabilities to support the deployment of its technology, products and services. In 2016, Schlumberger inaugurated its Middle East Center for Reliability and Efficiency (CRE), which collocates maintenance and product center sustaining experts engaging in industry–leading maintenance processes. The Middle East CRE is the largest state-of-the-art facility in the Schlumberger network.

About Schlumberger

Schlumberger is the world's leading provider of technology for reservoir characterization, drilling, production, and processing to the oil and gas industry. Working in more than 85 countries and employing approximately 100,000 people who represent over 140 nationalities, Schlumberger supplies the industry's most comprehensive range of products and services, from exploration through production, and integrated pore-to-pipeline solutions that optimize hydrocarbon recovery to deliver reservoir performance.

Schlumberger Limited has principal offices in Paris, Houston, London and The Hague, and reported revenues of $27.81 billion in 2016. For more information, visit