Unlike traditional pipe insulation, Speed Wrap® ES uses silica aerogel as its main insulating material. Silica Aerogel Insulation itself is not a new technology, however until recently, Aerogel was only commonly available in solid form (has a cloudy, lightweight glass look). Without getting into too much detail (which can be found at aerogel.org and wikipedia.org) Aerogel is basically a gel where the liquid component is replaced with a gas.
This video from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory provides useful information about the traditional form of aerogel:
In fact, Silica Aerogel Insulation truly is "Space Age" as it was used to insulate the Mars Rover!
Once Silica Aerogel became available in flexible blanket form, we quickly recognized the potential to provide an easily installable pipe insulation to save energy and protect employees, while requiring only a fraction of the thickness of traditional pipe insulation. In addition to the incredible insulating properties of Silica Aerogel, we discovered that the material had other beneficial qualities. It is very hydrophobic, meaning that it is not prone to water infiltration, however it is breathable, so if a pipe were to leak, the insulation: a) would retain almost 100% of its insulating properties, and b) would allow the water to evaporate through the Silica Aerogel material. It is also chemical resistant. For instance, hydrocarbons heavier than kerosene will not ruin the Aerogel structure, meaning that the pipe insulation will still be able to retain a majority of its insulating properties if it gets soaked in a heavier hydrocarbon (we would still recommend replacing the insulation since oil soaked insulation could present a fire hazard).