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Popcorn used to create eco-friendly insulation

A new study led by the University of Göttingen has found that insulation made of granulated popcorn is less expensive and more sustainable and environmentally-friendly than traditional types of insulation made of petroleum-based plastic or mineral fibers.

In order to be sustainable, insulation material should be made from renewable components, must have a good thermal insulation and fire protection, and it must be easy to recycle at the end of its “useful life.” Conventional insulation materials which currently dominate the market have a significantly negative impact on the environment, generating nearly 10 percent of global CO2 emissions each year.

A research team at University of Göttingen’s Faculty of Forest Sciences and Forest Ecology has recently succeeded in developing a process by which insulation boards made of granulated popcorn – which have excellent thermal insulation properties and great protection against fire – can be produced. By contrast to traditional petroleum-based products, this material is plant-based, environmentally friendly, and has water-repellent properties.

“This new process, based on that of the plastics industry, enables the cost-effective production of insulation boards at an industrial scale,” explained the head of the research group, Professor Alireza Kharazipour. “Especially in the field of insulation in construction, this ensures that natural insulation materials are no longer just niche products.”

The University of Göttingen has recently signed a license agreement with the Bachl Group, a German building material company, in order to start commercializing this new, innovative product.

“We are delighted to be launching such an innovative insulation product using popcorn onto the market together with the University of Göttingen,” declared Michael Küblbeck, the Managing Director of Bachl Group.

“For us, this is another important milestone in our strategic development towards becoming an integrated, multi-material insulation supplier. Popcorn insulation complements our quality range perfectly and means we can respond even more precisely to the different requirements of the market and our customers.”

By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer

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