Waste materials to be tested as viable options for insulating buildings

The University of Bath is testing a number of waste materials to assess their thermal performance as potential materials for insulating buildings.

This collaborative project between the University of Bath, University of Brighton, UniLaSalle in Rouen (France) and five other academic and non-academic partners, and funded under the Interreg VA France (Channel) England programme, is investigating the performance of a range of waste materials and bio-based co-products as alternative building insulation materials.

Three different materials are being evaluated – wheat straw bales, rapeseed stalks (processed into bio-composite), and recycled duvets.

The research team at the University of Bath is testing and comparing the thermal performance of each of the insulation materials by constructing three identical prototype wall panels, each containing one of the materials. Their performances will be compared and contrasted with each other as well as against industry standard insulation used currently in most buildings.

The UK Government has set the UK construction industry the aim of halving its greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, favouring the introduction of technologies capable of building energy-efficient, cost-effective housing and infrastructure.

It is hoped that by using already existing waste materials or co-products, widespread use of such materials in the construction sector could lead to significant reductions in emissions associated with construction as well as reducing the dependency on natural resources used in traditional insulation such as glass wool and rock wool.

The panels are 150mm thick by 1.1 metre square and fitted with 9mm plywood either side, similar of how insulation is commonly constructed into buildings. Each panel contains a number of probes measuring relative humidity, interior and exterior temperature, and heat flux.

The panels will undergo six weeks of consecutive rigorous testing in a state-of-the-art environmental chamber at the University’s Building Research Park. There will be two tests – a steady state and a non-steady state temperature test.
In the first test an increasing temperature will be applied to one side of the panels to calculate how much energy is required to increase the temperature on the other side of the panel. The second test will involve increasing the humidity to evaluate how each material maintains and holds moisture.

read the full press-release here

published on www.bath.ac.uk

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