Researchers in Finland are working to develop high-performance wood-fibre insulation that could replace insulation products made from non-renewable or non-recyclable raw materials. These new materials will be able to be mass produced, have lower energy consumption during production and a reduced carbon footprint.
The VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is currently working on a project to create cellulose insulation and sprayable insulation foams that perform as well as standard polyurethane insulation.
Polyurethane foams, according to the Thermal Insulation Manufacturers and Suppliers Association, have the highest environmental impact while cellulose insulation materials have the lowest. While polyurethane insulation currently performs better than cellulose, the researchers say the insulation properties of cellulosic materials can be improved by using foam-like structures to create air pockets in the material.
Aside from the environmental benefits, there are also health benefits of using cellulose. Because the raw materials of plastic-based in-situ spray-on polyisocyanurates and polyurethanes contain hazardous components, insulation workers must wear protective respirator masks and protect their skin during installation work.
In contrast, the spray-on cellulosic foam being developed will involve no health hazards, either during or after its installation.
The researchers said there were good market opportunities for producers of new insulation materials.