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Development of low-cost, lightweight Highly Insulating Polymers for refrigerated transport, heating and cooling installations

Final Report Summary - HIP (Development of low-cost, lightweight Highly Insulating Polymers for refrigerated transport, heating and cooling installations)

Executive Summary:
HIP is the project acronym for the following full project title: Development of low-cost, lightweight Highly Insulating Polymers for refrigerated transport, heating and cooling installations. The project has been conducted over a 36 month duration, finishing on 31st October 2013. The overall objectives were to develop an innovative new class of polymer insulation material to fill the performance gap between low cost poorly performing foams and high performance and high cost aerogels or vacuum insulation panels. We hope the HIP material will offer high thermal resistance but at the cost close to that of insulating foams. The key objective is to achieve a thermal conductivity of 0.015W/m.K at a cost of less than €500 per cubic metre. Over 40% of the EU’s primary energy consumption is used
for heating or cooling in buildings, hot water, for industrial process heat and heat in the service sector. Similarly 12% of Europe’s goods vehicles are refrigerated which equates to 570,000 vehicles; in addition there are approximately 37,000 refrigerated containers in Europe. Combined these industries are therefore responsible for close to 45% of Europe’s total energy demand. Our members’ activities encompass manufacture of systems, specifying and configuring bespoke solutions, and installation. Although our activities are diverse we share a common, urgent need to improve energy efficiency of our products, installations and processes. There is therefore a strong motivation to develop a new class of high performance, light-weight, cost-effective thermal insulating materials. We have SME Association and SME and LE beneficiaries collaborating in the HIP project representing the refrigerated transport, HVAC, domestic electric water heating, industrial and construction sectors, all seeking to benefit from an improved insulation product.

Project Context and Objectives:
The member of the Thermal Insulation Contractors Association (TICA) consists of operators of refrigeration transport and installer of HVAC. Waste energy is a major cost factor influencing both industries in Europe. In short, TICA members are wasting energy and hence losing money through a lack of optimal insulation. The hip project aimed to develop an innovative new class of polymer insulation material based on high internal phase emulsion templating (HIPE). The main objectives were to achieve a thermal conductivity of 0.015Wm.K at a cost less than €500 per cubic metre. This could have the potential benefit to member of in Europe of €50 million in energy cost savings.
Project Results:
There has been a thorough investigation into techniques and formulations of polyHIPEs. So far we have established the industrial requirements of the project partners involved and produced a range of candidate materials. These materials have been subject to mechanical and thermal performance tests, as well as detailed SEM analysis. These materials are now optimised for their performance.

The research and development of the candidate materials and production processes were performed with a great level of collaboration between the project partners and the results to date reflect their great working relationship. Insulation panels made to the HIP specification have been produced and a candidate water tank has been clad with the panels. Testing of the effectiveness of the HIP technology can now be performed. The industrial partners have contributed enthusiastically to the materials development, offering feedback to the RTD
performers and participating fully in the regular project meetings. Many of the industrial partners are very active in hosting their own events and attending conferences and tradeshows, such as EASCA and TTMD, this has given HIP a great opportunity to complete some early awareness dissemination. TTMD has shared a poster design for all the partners to display at their events to prompt appropriate discussions, and a pull up banner has also been produced by TICA. The project logo was provided by MATRI. The consortium worked hard during the final period to regain lost time due to previous delays and have completed the development objectives by the end of the project.

Potential Impact:
Despite our diverse range of businesses, the consortium share a common problem, namely how to provide our members with higher performing insulation materials for their products or applications. The overall objective of HIP is to develop a versatile, light weight, low cost insulation material with a thermal conductivity (at room temperature) of 0.015W(mK) over a life cycle of at least 25 years. Achieving this will enable: Up to 50% reduction in thermal losses from heating and cooling systems, and hot water storage (compared to PU foams). Up to 40% reduction in fuel consumption of refrigeration plant for mobile cooling units (compared to conventional insulation materials such as PU foams). Compliance with EUP directive by 2013 (ie hot water storage systems) whilst minimising additional material or installation costs. Improved utilization of renewable energy as provided by heat pumps and solar thermal systems. Reduction in the use of HFC blowing agents and GHG emissions. The benefits to our SME association and SME target groups operating refrigerated
vehicles will be significantly reduced fuel consumption without sacrificing payload, a typical vehicle will save around €4000 of fuel a year. Worldwide, the insulation materials market is worth almost $30bn and is projected to expand 3.8% per year through 2012 to produce a market worth $37bn. HIP will be able to contribute significantly to achieving the EC energy saving goals through the use of an effective insulation solution.

We are confident that we have achieved all of the project objectives and provide a product which can offer energy and cost savings for the industrial sectors identified. There is also great potential for further refinement based on the results of the HIP project.

List of Websites:

The HIP project website address is:
Project Contact:

Ralph Bradley
Thermal Insulation Contractors Association
Head Office:
TICA House,
34 Allington Way,
Yarm Road Business Park,
County Durham.