The effect of elevated temperature during storage and curing of ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) formulated aerogel-incorporated mortar (AIM) samples was investigated. It was found that an effective aerogel loading of 60 vol% of total bulk volume was possible for producing AIM samples with suitable thermal and mechanical properties under optimized storing and curing conditions. AIM samples with compressive strengths of up to ≈19 MPa was achieved and the corresponding thermal conductivity was ≈0.4 W/(mK). For more insulating concrete, 70 vol% aerogel was needed and AIM samples with thermal conductivity as low as ≈0.1 W/(mK) were cast. In general, AIM samples with strengths of up to 5 MPa can be achieved when thermal conductivities of between 0.1 and 0.2 W/(mK) is desired. The obtained results here estimates that there is potential in improving the AIM samples to produce structural and insulating concrete through modification of storing and curing conditions to achieve the desired requirements of a thermal conductivity value of <0.1 W/(mK) with a corresponding compressive strength of >20 MPa.
Improvements to concrete will have a large impact in the construction and building sector. As the attention is drawn towards energy-efficient and zero emission buildings, the thermal properties of concrete will be important. Attempts are being made to decrease the thermal conductivity of concrete composites while retaining as much as possible of the mechanical strength. In this study experimental investigations of aerogel-incorporated mortar (AIM) with up to 80 vol% aerogel are prepared utilizing a reduced ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) recipe. It was found that at 50 vol% aerogel content, the AIM sample possessed a compressive strength of 20 MPa and a thermal conductivity of ≈0.55 W/(mK). This strength decreased by almost a factor of 4–5.8 MPa, while gaining only a 20% improvement in thermal conductivity when aerogel content increased to 70 vol%. No preferred gain in properties was observed as compared to a normal mortar system. This can be attributed to the imbalance of the particle–matrix ratio in the mortar system, causing a decrease in adhesion of the binder-aggregates. The AIM samples have been characterized by thermal conductivity and mechanical strength measurements, alongside scanning electron microscope (SEM) analyses.