Posted: May 8, 2008

Cabot Aerogel and Birdair Announce Nanogel Fabric Membrane Roof Installation

(Nanowerk News) Cabot Aerogel, a business of Cabot Corporation and Birdair, Inc., a global leader in tensile fabric roofing systems, announced the first installation of their new energy-efficient fabric tensile roofing product, Tensotherm™ with Nanogel® aerogel. The new insulated composite fabric roofing system will replace the air-supported fabric roof constructed in 1980, of the Dedmon Athletic Center at Radford University in Radford, VA. The project will enclose the sports arena's entire 52,000 square-feet roof area and will be completed by November 2008, just in time for the school's NCAA basketball season opener.
Representatives of Cabot Aerogel and Birdair will be available to discuss the Tensotherm product and this project at the 2008 AIA National Convention and Exhibition, May 15-17, at the Boston Convention Center, Booth #22153.
Birdair's Tensotherm with Nanogel consists of an aerogel fabric layer sandwiched between two layers of Birdair - structural PTFE fabric, creating an insulated composite that was not possible before the advent of the Nanogel light-transmitting fabric inner-layer. The composite fabric system is less than two inches thick, yet it has an insulation value of R-12, meeting Virginia energy codes. It also delivers 3.5 percent natural light transmission, which contributes to its high performing energy-efficiency by reducing the need for artificial lighting. The advanced system also offers maximum moisture control and superior sound insulation. All of these are permanent performance features that will not change over time to match the long-term efficacy of the PTFE membrane.
"Over the last three decades advances in technology have greatly improved structural tensile fabrics," said Kevin Mayer, Birdair vice president for business development, marketing and sales. "Working with Cabot and Geiger Engineers, we now have an exceptionally long-wearing insulated light transmissive fabric system that meets our rigorous performance standards and can exceed mandates for higher energy-efficiency. Cabot's unique Nanogel® aerogel is key to creating this next generation roofing fabric."
James Satterwhite, global daylighting business manager for Cabot said, "Projects like Radford University's Dedmon Center call for the beauty and durability of a fabric roof form, but also require a higher level of energy efficiency. Tensotherm with Nanogel is the daylighting solution that balances design and energy performance."
Plans also call for upgrading the facility's heating and cooling systems once the new roof goes up. The performance of the Nanogel inside the Tensotherm will contribute significantly to a higher level of efficiency in the first cost of mechanical systems as well as reduce long-term operational costs for the center. This is a new frontier for tensile architecture.
"This new material creates opportunities for tensioned membrane in applications and climates that were traditionally difficult. Tensotherm with Nanogel is truly a building envelope material with uses well beyond roof structures," said David M. Campbell, PE, principal, Geiger Engineers.
What is Nanogel® aerogel?
Nanogel® is the brand name for the nano-porous feather-light aerogel material manufactured exclusively by Cabot. The aerogel is an extremely lightweight and versatile material that delivers thermal insulation while allowing transmission of a high-quality, uniform diffused light. Nanogel also insulates sound and permanently repels moisture and resists mildew. Its high performance features in these areas make it ideally suited for numerous applications. Nanogel translucent aerogel material is manufactured exclusively by Cabot Corporation in Frankfurt, Germany using a process based on Cabot's patented surface modification and fine-particle manufacturing technology.
About Cabot Corporation
Cabot is a global specialty chemicals and materials company headquartered in Boston, MA. Its major products are carbon black, fumed silica, inkjet colorants, capacitor materials, and cesium formate drilling fluids. For more information visit
About Birdair
Birdair, Inc. is a leading builder of architectural fabric roofing systems throughout the world, providing turn-key solutions for architects and clients in all aspects of project design, engineering, installation and maintenance. Birdair roofing systems and cable structures can be attached to any building envelope and offer aesthetic options to complement any exterior design. For more information about Birdair, Inc., please call 1-800-622-2246 or visit
About Geiger
Geiger Engineers was founded in 1988 by a group of professionals who have now been collaborating on challenging engineering assignments for more than thirty years. Founder David Geiger invented the low profile cable-restrained air-supported roof, employing a super-elliptical perimeter compression ring, the membrane structural system used to cover more than half of the domed stadia in the world. The firm, also known as Geiger Berger, was instrumental in the development of structural membrane materials, such as TEFLON® coated fiberglass, and pioneered many other long-span cable, tensile membrane, tensegrity and air-supported structures. For more information visit
Source: Cabot Corp.
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