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Development of Nanotechnology-based High-performance Opaque & Transparent Insulation Systems for Energy-efficient Buildings

Final Report Summary - NANOINSULATE (Development of Nanotechnology-based High-performance Opaque & Transparent Insulation Systems for Energy-efficient Buildings)

Executive Summary:
Synopsis:
The NanoInsulate project has developed durable, robust, cost-effective opaque and transparent vacuum insulation panels (VIPs) incorporating new nanotechnology-based core materials (such as nanofoams and aerogel composites) and high-barrier films, resulting in panels that are up to four times more energy efficient than current solutions. These new systems will provide product lifetimes in excess of 50 years for new-build and retrofit building applications.
Project Context and Objectives:
Introduction:
The successful entry of new nanotechnology-based insulation products to the transportation and refrigeration fields indicates that innovative insulation products should be explored in the building and construction sector, which accounts for over 40% of all energy usage. Among these innovative products, the development and use of VIPs is particularly advantageous as they are not only three to four times more energy efficient than conventional commercial counterparts but are also thinner and lighter and, thus, more resource-efficient than standard insulation systems. Furthermore, they are suitable not only for use in new buildings, but also for retrofitting older buildings, where installation space and simple component design are a premium. Robustness (both physical and in long term performance) and lower cost are key to success in the construction field.

Objectives:
The specific objectives and aims of this project were to develop robust new functionalised nanotechnology-based high energy efficient vacuum insulation panel systems (VIPs) using novel low cost/high volume sustainable processes, thereby addressing the zero-carbon drivers of the EU Construction and Modern Buildings sector. These new lightweight/thin panel-systems have in-service lifetimes, thermal and mechanical properties far exceeding those presently on the market, achieving the following objectives:
• Research and technological development in the field of energy-efficient sustainable products with added functionality and processes.
• The increased competitiveness of EU enterprises, large and small, through increased transnational research and technological collaboration.
• Demonstrable energy-efficiency savings, leading to significant reductions in EU energy consumption and greenhouse gases in the construction, retrofit and modern building sectors.
Project Results:
Methodology:
The overall scope of the project included an early scientific research phase, which laid the foundation for a technology integration phase that culminated in functionalised VIP concept solutions, which, in turn, facilitated demonstration, life cycle assessment (LCA) and in-service costing activities. Additional work plans have been implemented which monitored and control the project and demonstrated the project’s results to the wider end-user community. The sequence of work packages took into account the necessary interdependencies between the R&D, integration, demonstration, in-servicing and LCA tasks. The scientific and technological objectives were defined and focused on establishing beyond the state of the art in the development of next-generation nanotechnology-based thermal insulation systems in a cost-effective eco-sustainable manner for building and construction applications.

Results:
• A novel nanostructured transparent composites of silica aerogels with polymers with extremely low thermal conductivity having superior mechanical properties to conventional silica aerogel panels.
• Development of innovative nanostructured nanofoams. Successful investigations at laboratory scale to synthesise and characterise nanofoam materials and relating the chemical and physical structure of the materials to their resultant properties. Novel nanostructured mechanically-stable core materials of organic nanoporous foams have been produced using lab based production processes, with very low thermal conductivities.
• Investigations and development of novel film barriers that will have significantly reduced gas permeation rates compared with conventional barriers, which will result in increased service life, thus making them suitable for use in the building and construction sector.
• Production of innovative VIP designs and novel VIP production methods for robustness and lower cost on a semi-industrial scale backed by powerful simulation tools that will effectively integrate the nanostructured core and barrier materials.
• Validated model systems developed against powder-derived VIP systems and showcase at demonstration sites across the EU, in a number of different scenarios. Demonstrating the significant commercial viability and market applicability.
Potential Impact:
Impact:
• By using new knowledge generated, NanoInsulate has developed integrated nanotechnology-based highly energy-efficient opaque and transparent VIPs using novel low-cost high-volume sustainable processes, thereby addressing the zero-carbon drivers of the EU construction and modern Buildings sector, a key economic innovation.
• The innovative manufacturing solutions developed have reduced the current high level of capital and operating costs for the wide-scale exploitation of the technology. Moreover, it has increased the use of highly functional nanomaterial’s within the sector through sustainable pilot scale manufacturing of derived nano solutions.
• These new durable lightweight thin-panel systems exhibit thermal and mechanical properties far exceeding those presently on the market (e.g. up to four times more energy efficient), thereby reducing heat losses, energy demand, and increasing indoor comfort. This will lead to a value-added product.
• The increased competitiveness of EU enterprises, large and small, through increased transnational R&D collaboration will lead to estimated 40% business growth opportunities (Year 5) for beneficiaries through exploitation of the concept solutions post-project.
• Significant reductions in EU energy consumption and GHG in the construction, retrofit and modern building sector giving clean affordable and societal benefits to EU citizens, a key environmental innovation.
List of Websites:
http://www.nanoinsulate.eu/