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PIANOSILICA Report Summary

Project ID: 718403

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PIANOSILICA (Pianosilica – new, eco-friendly and fire-resistant construction materials.)

Reporting period: 2016-04-01 to 2016-09-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Sustainable development means that the needs of the present generation should be met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Eighteen years ago sustainable development became a fundamental objective of the EU when it was included in the Treaty of Amsterdam as an overarching objective of EU policies. The European Council in Göteborg (2001) adopted the first EU Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS). As it is stated in the Review of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy (EU SDS) - Renewed Strategy (2006), the main overall objectives of the EU in the context of sustainability is to limit climate change and its costs and negative effects to society and the environment and to promote sustainable consumption and production patterns. One of operational objectives to achieve that is that EU should seek to increase its global market share in the field of environmental technologies and eco-innovations. Finally, the one of goals of the EU is to prevent and reduce environmental pollution and promote sustainable consumption and production to break the link between economic growth and environmental degradation.
The impact of the construction sector on the environment and sustainable development is significant. The importance of environmental protection related to construction was elready recognized in the Construction Products Directive (CPD) and other directives based on the New Approach to technical harmonization and standards developed in the 1980s. It is estimated that buildings account for almost half of the EU's energy demand. Construction uses more raw materials than any other sector; the creation and operation of the built environment accounts for an important consumption of natural resources. Around 50 000 different materials and chemical products are used in the construction sector. The construction process can create significant amounts of waste to be dealt with, and of that a high proportion can be hazardous waste (e.g. 1/3 of all wastes and 1/3 of hazardous wastes in the United Kingdom are due to the construction sector) - all of which can affect human health and the environment. The large volumes of materials and the long life of buildings increase the risk of construction products affecting human health and the environment.
According to the EEA data, buildings are responsible for 42% energy consumption and 35% greenhouse gasses emission within the Europe. Implementation of our technology will greatly reduce problems associated with CO2 emission. If we consider that 30% of energy consumed in buildings is used unnecessarily or inefficiently [Report: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; 2007], above mentioned data of an energy consumption’s structure indicate crucial environmental and economic problem. Due to that we can estimate that 13% of global primary energy consumption is wasted, and about 12% of CO2 overproduced because of buildings energy inefficiency. The potential area of enhancing building’s energy efficiency relates to main sources of energy waste. Tests carried out on high-rise commercial and residential buildings, schools, super markets and houses have shown that between 30-50 percent of energy loss is attributed to air leakage and heat transfer [Report: Oak Ridge National Laboratory; 2004]. In this case, reduction of heat losses will have a significant impact on building’s energy efficiency what will result in decrease of energy costs (real estate owners) and CO2 emissions (environment). According to the EEA, to tackle the impact on envonment, it is essential to provide changes in designing, construction and exploatation of buildings on a global scale. It is related mostly to: lowering the demand for additional heating, coolness and energy; renewable and unconventional sources usage; improving the facilities responsible for temperature management; construction optimization; other than CO2 greenhouse gasses emission reduction. To achieve goals of sustainability in development, it is significant to allow construction sector getting more eco-friendly, sustainable products and materials.
Having that in mind, the novel technology of foam silicates manufacturing has been developed at the Institute of Low Temperature and Structure Research PAS (ILT&SR PAS) and further dedicated to be commercialized through establishing a spin-off by its authors (researchers of ILT&SR PAS). The spin-off has been created with seed-funding sourced from venture capital instrument of the Lower Silesian Regional Development Agency.

The main objective of the project is to offer the product on a worldwide scale. The global usage our modern technology will contribute to solving one of most essential challenges which is sustainable development and global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2). The application of our cost-effective innovation will greatly facilitate the implementation of EC's long-term strategy of a competitive low carbon EU economy [COM (2011) 112]. Our product is in line with the EU energy efficiency targets [Directive 2012/27/EU]. Moreover our innovative system is an answer to global trends of energy efficiency increasing by optimizing buildings energy consumption [World Energy Council Report; 2013]. Limitation of the above-mentioned problems and their impact are the main aim of the proposed innovation. We intend, inter alia, to reduce an energy needed to heat (and air condition or other uses requiring energy) real estates of all kinds. What is also worth mentioning, our technology allows producing silicates of waste, which is just another advantage – on the ecological and economical hand. Our product, further called “Pianosilica” is intended for the industry, mostly construction sector. Our technology will eventually help in reducing costs of construction processes by at least 20%. By offering an innovative, cost reducing technology, we intend to reach a wide range of customers. It will allow spreading the technology over and building a mass so the environmental impact will rise. We trully believe that implementation of Pianosilica will greatly impact on challenge associated with sustainability in construction on a local, regional and finally global scale.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The main objective of the study was to assess the technical feasibility and economic viability of the implementation of Foam Silicates on the EU market. The work completed under the project was included in:
• the Feasibility Study – includes an overview of the work completed and the analysis of the technical part of the implementation,
• the Business Plan – includes the financial part, the strategic part and the market part of SME I (1) project.
Additionally, when working on the above-specified documents, the following were created:
• the Technological Audit Report and the plan of development stages,
• the Financial model (dynamic model in Excel).

Creating the documents listed above allowed the Company to achieve all the intended objectives that had been defined for implementation under SME I (1) project. The objectives included:
• Identification of potential technical challenges that should be addressed before or during the industrial research stage;
• Identification of crucial resources necessary for the success of the next stage of product development;
• Development of the production and dissemination plan. Innovation and IP management;
• Analysis of the financial viability;
• Identification of potential partners.
The aforementioned objectives were achieved through the activities carried out as part of Phase I (1) of SME.

The most important conclusions drawn from the works performed are the following:
• The target market is large and growing;
• The product corresponds to real market needs, which result from the continually raising standards in terms of thermal conductivity and safety;
• The manufacturers of sandwich panels, in particular sandwich panels with mineral wool core, form the target group of the technology;
• The following competitive advantages of the product have been identified: a lower manufacturing cost, the possibility of using waste, and a flexible and easy-to-implement manufacturing process;
• Due to the nature of the target market, the business model that has been selected relies on the implementations of the technology, combined with the granting of licenses. In addition, strong IP protection speaks in favour of this choice;
• The main technological issues and present barriers to development arise from the need of rescaling the foam silicate manufacturing process from laboratory to industrial scale;
• The Company has developed an action plan that is supposed to lead the Company to reach the 9th TRL and implement the solution on the market;
• The financial analysis has shown the profitability of the project;
• The product will have a strong positive environmental effect through reduction of CO2 (lower energy expenditure during production as compared with the energy expenditure during production of mineral wool, shortening of the supply chain) and waste management.
More information on the above topics can be found in the Business Plan and the Technological Audit Report, which have been developed.
Relying on the works performed, the materials collected and the conclusions which were drawn on that basis and included the relevant risk, the Company has decided to continue the Pianosilica project

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

As highlighted in the Business Plan, the Pianosilica product is characterised by new features and functionalities that distinguish it from other products available on the market; in particular, from the competing product in the form of mineral wool. The mentioned features and functionalities include:
- a wide range of modifications of physical and chemical parameters through the use of nano-additives or other specific components – part of the raw materials can be successfully replaced with waste materials, so that the production cost will be additionally reduced,
- a simpler, more flexible and less capital-intensive production process in comparison to the mineral wool production process – the manufacturers of sandwich panels purchase their wool from external suppliers, and as a result, the production process is not only a multi-step process, but it also has a lower rate and higher costs (increased by, for example, costs of wool transport); in contrast, the production of foam silicates could be performed directly in the manufacturers' factories, since the manufacturing process is much less complicated and requires less expenditures for starting the production line, and this makes it possible to shorten the process and reduce its costs,
- a lower demand for electricity required for producing the finished product – mineral wool is manufactured at a temperature of 1000oC (glass wool) or 1400oC (rock wool), whereas foam silicates are manufactured at a temperature of 400-600oC – in consequence, the demand for electricity required for the manufacturing of 1 tonne of the output material of mineral wool is by 280% higher than in the case of foam silicate,
- due to very high adhesion of foam silicate to other surfaces (e.g. steel sheet, which is the most common cladding for sandwich panels), it is not necessary to use an adhesive in order to hold the cladding of the panel and its core together; as a result, in the event of fire, there is no emission of harmful gases that would be otherwise produced during the combustion of adhesives used in mineral wool.

By reducing heat losses and using materials sourced from waste, our innovative technology will make a direct contribution to more efficient use of resources and CO2 emission, and as such it can be called as eco-innovative. It has been developed by an SME company composed of scientists of ILT&SR PAS. Being a small business, we do have sufficient human capital, which can maximize its potential and become more competitive if we receive the grant.
Thanks to our solution, we can contribute to the common European challenge of accelerating the commercialization of eco-innovative construction related solutions with a view to stimulating sustainable economic growth, business and job creation in the construction sector. Our technology, thanks to novel methods of materials manufacturing, can help with achieving more sustainable materials management, consumption and recycling while maintaining high level of cost efficiency. Thanks to Pianosilica we will also help to achieve the goals of the European Commission in terms of environment protection and use of resources. Those goals mainly embrace objectives and strategies set out in the following documents “Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe” [COM(2011) 571] and “A resource-efficient Europe – Flagship initiative under the Europe 2020 Strategy” [COM (2011) 21].

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