Circular insulation materials for a better future

Circular insulation materials for a better future

Since the industrial revolution, we use cheap energy sources and special materials such as high strength concrete, carbon and mineral wool. The downside is an increasing use of fossil fuels and scarce earth materials, global warming and increasing environmental pollution. It is generally recognized that, in order to reverse this trend, we need to develop a circular economy.

Circular isolation materials can safely be composted or reused at a high quality level. Better for a healthy living and for our environment.

The circular economy aims to maximize the reuse of products and commodities and the prevention of value destruction.

Contrary to our current linear system, which transforms raw materials into products destroyed at the end of their lifespan.

The circular system has two cycles of materials.

  1. A biological cycle, in which residues can safely flow back into nature after use.
  2. And a technical cycle for which products / components are designed and marketed to be re-used at a high-quality level.

This keeps the economic value largely retained.

Great profit can be achieved in construction materials. In the next years, we have to isolate millions of homes to meet the climate change agreements in Paris. Nowadays, the main insulation materials used are polystyrene, PUR or glass and stone wool. If we want to build new houses, these insulation materials can not be reused. The particles are too small or are too fragile: Same effect as with tires or deodorants.

Let’s seek for solutions in the biological cycle. This can be done with biobased insulation materials such as flax, limestone or PLA. These materials will be incorporated into nature at the end of the life cycle.

Biobased insulation materials

Such a transition is interesting. Not only from an environmental or economic point of view. Those biobased insulation materials can also lead to a healthier indoor climate. A win-win! Biobased materials are beautiful, as well as functional. For example to regulate ​​moisture, improve indoor climate and absorb noise.

An overview

SEA BALLS

What are commonly referred to as Neptune balls, which are made of matted seaweed fibers, can also be used without additives as an insulating material with natural fire prevention properties (B1). The organic brown material can be found washed up on beaches. As it contains hardly any salts and no proteins it does not rot and the fibers are not harmful to the human organism. With thermal conductivity of just 0.037 W/(mK), sea balls are highly suitable for building insulation (e.g., in roofs and timber structures.)

HOLLOW SPHERE STRUCTURES

These high-strength hollow spheres offer an option for flexibly filling non-rigid geometrical shapes. They are produced on the basis of EPS spheres. In an air-suspension coating process, these are coated in a suspension made from metal or ceramic powder, binding agents and water, and subsequently heated. The polymeric material evaporates, and what remains are hollow spheres made of metallic or ceramic material.

Thanks to this production principle, any material that can be sintered is suitable for processing. The materials properties can be influenced as regards the thickness and porosity of the outer surface as well as the base shape. On account of the high porosity and the many surfaces that interact, the thermal conductivity of hollow spheres is considerably lower than that of solid materials. To achieve particular properties, other materials can be injected into the existing hollow sphere. Given the geometry of the sphere, hollow sphere structures boast pressure-resistant and rigid characteristics. Hollow spheres are 4070% lighter than solid-state ones.

HEMP, WONDER MATERIAL

Hemp insulation is an incredibly durable, high performance, natural thermal insulation material that offers a number of unique benefits to building inhabitants. Hemp fibres have been used throughout history for durable applications such as ropes and clothing due to its robust nature and resistance to corrosion. These benefits make hemp insulation batts an ideal insulator with a guaranteed longevity often exceeding the life of the building.

Hemp insulation also acts as a natural moisture buffer which helps to regulate condensation levels without causing any deterioration to thermal efficiency. This reduces the risk of damp and mould and also conditions timber frames by drawing out excess moisture from the wood. And hemp allows buildings to breathe!

Hemp fibres will lock away up to two tonnes of CO for every tonne of hemp harvested. Hemp insulation batts lock up more CO than is emitted during production, acting as a carbon sink and has an overall positive impact on our environment.

BIOFOAM

BiofoamPearls® are manufactured by polymerizing and expanding lactic acid (foaming) with CO2 withdrawn from the air. They are “popped” like popcorn. BioFoamPearls® are biodegradable: a compostable alternative to EPS-systems. That means: 70% less CO2 emissions. The HR BiofoamPearls have an insulation value that is almost equivalent to that of gray polystyrene beads and glass or rock wool.

The biofoam insulation systems provide:

  • Maximum energy saving
  • Solving moisture problems for existing construction and new construction
  • Isolating special constructions and objects
  • A solution for damp floors
  • Sustainable and organic materials

I hope that real estate developers, house owner and housing corporationswill choose biobased insulation materials. In doing so, they choose a sustainable and healthy future. For all of us!

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