Newswise — OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Sept. 12, 2019—Quanex IG Systems, a business unit of Quanex Building Products, has signed a non-exclusive agreement to license a method to produce insulating material from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The low-cost material can be used as an additive to increase thermal insulation performance and improve energy efficiency when applied to a variety of building products. 

Houston-based Quanex designs and makes energy-efficient components associated with windows and doors for original equipment manufacturers. The company plans to incorporate and scale up ORNL’s technology into their existing processes to produce low-cost thermal insulation for the building products industry. 

“The technology has been verified on the lab scale and shows promise as an additive in composite materials for thermal insulation at the commercial scale,” said Sean Hummel, director of research and development at Quanex. “ORNL has demonstrated that their process is energy efficient and creates less waste, which yields the lower cost additive.” 

ORNL inventor Jaswinder Sharma and a team of researchers developed the method for synthesizing the highly insulating material that exhibits unique physical and structural properties for optimal thermal insulation performance, which could reduce energy use when applied. 

“Our approach minimizes the use of chemical solvents, which decreases waste streams typically associated with the production of these kinds of materials,” Sharma said.    

“At ORNL, we place a high value on early-stage research that translates into real-world results, and we’re pleased to see adoption of this technology by the private sector,” said Moe Khaleel, associate laboratory director for Energy and Environmental Sciences at ORNL. “This multi-disciplinary project relied on two of DOE’s scientific user facilities at ORNL: the Building Technologies Research and Integration Center and the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences.” 

Quanex and ORNL plan to continue developing the thermal insulation material. “We are excited to work with ORNL and this new technology to improve the thermal properties of building components,” Hummel said. 

The research was originally supported by the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Building Technologies Office and by DOE’s Technology Commercialization Fund program at ORNL. 

Quanex Building Products Corporation is an industry-leading manufacturer of components sold to original equipment manufacturers in the building products industry. Quanex designs and produces energy-efficient fenestration products in addition to kitchen and bath cabinet components. 

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for DOE’s Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit For ORNL licensing information, contact