Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Thinner thermal insulation

01.12.2011
Insulation panels that are both thin and effective are expensive. At present these high-end products are built into energy-saving refrigerators. Innovative components and production techniques are now set to sink the costs – so that private home-builders can also benefit from the new technology.

In Germany, the rising cost of heating has sparked a renovation boom. In order to lower energy costs, more and more homeowners are investing in insulation facades. But the typical insulation layers on the market have one drawback: they add bulk. The 20-centimeter-thick outer skin changes the building’s visual appearance and can result in significant follow-up costs – with a need to fit new, deeper window sills and sometimes even roof extensions.


Vacuum insulation panels, VIPs for short, insulate ten times better than conventional insulation of the same thickness. © va-Q-tec AG

Fraunhofer researchers are now developing films for a material that will insulate homes without much additional structural alteration: vacuum isolation panels, VIPs for short. The panels are only two centimeters thick and yet perform just as well as a classic 15-centimeter-thick insulation layer made from polyurethane foam. The inner workings of the VIPs are made mostly from pyrogenic silica. A high-tech film holds the material together and makes it air-tight.

Dr. Klaus Noller from the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV in Freising and Prof. Gerhard Sextl from the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC in Würzburg have been involved with the development of VIPs since the very beginning. They now want to ready the panels for cost-effective mass production. “The key elements are the films: they dictate the quality, life span and price,” acknowledges Noller. “The current production method is time-consuming and expensive: three of the five layers of plastic have to be coated with aluminum and stuck together. This requires seven production steps, which drives the price up.” At present, these expensive VIPs are employed only where a space saving is worth the money: for example in high-end refrigerators and freezers.

The new film is easier to produce because it is made up of just two plastic films with three barrier layers: one aluminum-coated plastic film is coated with a micrometer-thin layer of ORMOCER® – an ISC invention – and then coated again with aluminum. ORMOCER®s contain an organic-inorganic hybrid silicon-oxygen polymer matrix, which makes the material exceptionally tight and stable. “That’s what makes it perfect for insulation panels,” says Noller. “Gases and liquids cannot easily penetrate the ORMOCER® layer.” The new insulation films can be fashioned in just five stages. First a film is coated, then the ORMOCER® layer applied, then coated a second time before the barrier film is applied to the sealing film. “The end product is better and cheaper than the insulation films already on the market,” claims Sextl.

Researchers have also optimized the production of the VIP insulation elements: at the Fraunhofer Application Center for Processing Machines and Packaging Technology AVV in Dresden they have developed an automated process for gently sealing the pyrogenic silica cores with the high-barrier film. The films and production process have now been patented. As soon as the new VIPs are being produced in large enough quantities, the price should fall. Sextl and Noller are convinced that the thin panels will then be of interest for the building industry.

Now researchers want to simplify the production process further and carry out long-term tests. Until now the panels had to last just twelve years – the average lifespan of a refrigerator. The building sector has higher expectations: a facade should last fifty years. Noller and his colleagues are now testing the stability of films and insulation elements in climate chambers, which simulate the seasonal changes in heat and frost and in humidity. The results should be available in just a few months.

Dr. Klaus Noller | Fraunhofer Research News
Further information:
http://www.fraunhofer.de/en/press/research-news/2011/december/thinner-thermal-insulation.html

More articles from Architecture and Construction:

nachricht New Generation of Cleaning Tools for CSP Plants Reduces the Water Consumption
09.11.2018 | Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum

nachricht memory-steel - a new material for the strengthening of buildings
23.10.2018 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Architecture and Construction >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'

16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

Good preparation is half the digestion

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Microscope measures muscle weakness

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>