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Reporting period: 2018-03-01 to 2019-08-31

The GELCLAD project aimed at developing and bringing closer to the market a novel affordable, smart and eco-efficient modular cladding panel solution for buildings, made of a super nano-insulation aerogel core and a weatherproof skin frame composed of recycled polymers foams or wood bio/recycled polymer composites (ecoWPC), resulting in an innovative, off-the-shelf and ready-to-use unit, superiorly capable of complying with the strictest building energy efficiency requirements. The project was set to achieve several primary objectives:
- Supply the market with a novel nanotechnology-driven external insulation solution, while exceeding about 45% over conventional insulations.
- Bring to the market a high-performance solution at acceptable prices, cutting the cost of the aerogel material by 1/3 and maintenance and installation expenses by 65% of GELCLAD external modular over conventional systems.
- Provide the market with an innovative and durable cladding solution fulfilling a service lifetime frame of over 30 up to 50 years.
- Address the market with a faster and less labour intense retrofit plan on-site with unmatchable installation easiness.
- Push forward the state-of-the-art nanotechnologies and smart materials into the building economy, while enduring a real industrial breakthrough for piloting a single and continuous multi-layer material production.
- Reinforce the sustainability focus of the insulation market, by engineering an eco-friendlier aerogel production technology and centring the skin frame development on environmentally friendly bio-resins and recycled plastics to produce a 100% eco-friendly skin panel.
- Answer the major European renovation plan with a versatile external insulation solution with high replication potential, while promoting the certification of the insulation market and clustering activities with ongoing EU research actions players.
GELCLAD has been carried out fully in line with the project plan. Many challenges have been addressed and significant outcomes succeeded. The work performed and major results achieved can be summarised as follows:
- From over 100 extensive compound formulations, a group of 3 optimised GELCLAD skin frame systems have been successfully developed. Complementary, both memory shape metals and polymer composites were formulated to generate the smart adaptive controlling ventilation system.
- A Foamable Extrudable Aerogel (FEA) core/layer has been successfully formulated. After testing over 70 formulations, the best candidate was defined, with a water-based APD silica aerogel foam having a density around 130kg/m3 and a thermal conductivity of 15mW/mK, processed by a ground-breaking extrusion technique at industrial-pilot scale.
- Following simulation and engineering GELCLAD design, various manufacturings were scaled-up to produce GELCLAD panels. In addition to the co-extrusion/novel tools, alternative lamination and online filling solutions were developed for ecoWPC/FEA assembly. Three different pilots at the UK, Slovenia and Germany have been successfully set-up representing various industrial solutions accomplished at a full-scale, towards future market demand.
- GELCLAD panels and ventilation systems have been subjected to an extensive testing campaign by an accredited Body in accordance with relevant EN and ISO standards. Apart from complete technical product datasheets, material formulation, advanced compounding and processing requirements for GELCLAD production were systemised and documented for future GELCLAD certification.
- Full-size GELCLAD panels were installed on a real-size building in Gijon, Spain and on a pilot infrastructure in Ljubljana, Slovenia (JUB). These public demos were used for installation training and in-situ environment performance assessment and validation. Complementarily validation tests made in Coimbra, Portugal have demonstrated a high level of thermal improvement achieved while refurbishing an original building wall.
- A full set of 2D and 3D BIM supporting tools were realised for dissemination, communication and future exploitation. Also, virtual building cloud-based models were generated on both VR and AR for architectural and technical design demonstration.
- LCA and LCCA analysis have modelled conservative and ambitious scenarios for various GELCLAD panel’s compositions, designs and service lifetime frames, making a benchmark comparison with market products. Results have indicated that future marketable GELCLAD panels are able to perform favourably (embodied carbon) and compete counterparts in terms of costs.
- Channelled by intensive media coverage and social media activity and supported by a diversified list of dedicated promotional tools, the project was represented at multiple conferences, workshops and trade fairs promoting GELCLAD’s value proposition. More than 300 dissemination activities have been implemented, potentially reaching more than 50.000 stakeholders. The project has been particularly active in networking activities with other H2020 R&D projects in the scope of the AMANAC cluster and by promoting EU’s R&I Programme and EEB agenda. GELCLAD has interacted with other nanomaterials-related clusters and the consortium represented in standardization committees.
Buildings contribute more than one-third of global energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Building envelope deficiencies, e.g. poorly or uninsulated walls, are the biggest contributor for heat loss/gains (35%). GELCLAD is capable of meeting affordable NZEB building renovation and EPBD efficiency goals. Many of the GELCLAD work clearly represents huge progress beyond state of the art, where the GELCLAD design, smart element actuators and novel extrudable aerogel foam having a lambda value around 15mW/mK, are major highlights. Main innovations may be outlined into several main groups:
- GELCLAD aerogel core: An affordable foamable aerogel-based core material (specially formulated) having low thermal conductivity, capable of being extruded and/or injected.
- GELCLAD skin frame: Novel eco-friendly and functionalised foamed panels and ecoWPCs, based on wood fibres, bio and/or recycled polymers and functional additives.
- GELCLAD integration/production lines: Industrial production lines, namely advanced co-extrusion, on-line filling and lamination technologies, allowing the simultaneous combination of functional aerogel core and skin frame layers.
- GELCLAD modular panels: GELCLAD façade cladding panel comprising a nano-insulation core and eco skin frame, specifically designed to achieve easy production, swift installation and optimum performance.
- Smart adaptive controlling ventilation system: Ventilation module, supported by smart shape-memory materials, helping to control the ventilation of façade systems.
GELCLAD major outcomes could lead to significant impacts on building and other related industries. The EU is a global leader for EEB technologies having an expected market close to 110 billion€ in 2026 and over 882,000 jobs are associated with EU construction. A deep renovation of the existing stock together with NZEB can save 80% of the final EU’s energy use for space heating by 2050. The deep renovation of around 20% of the building stock by 2030 would generate energy savings of about 750 TWh/y. GELCLAD systems work towards this venture and for the further growth of the high-tech and sustainability-driven competitiveness of EU construction industry.
GELCLAD extruded aerogel
GELCLAD new smart ventilation elements
GELCLAD dissimination
GELCLAD dissemination in the media
GELCLAD offical poster
GELCLAD training
GELCLAD installation
GELCLAD preformance testing
GELCLAD demo installation
GELCLAD dissemination in trade fairs and conferences
GELCLAD panel concept
GELCLAD industrial approaches
GELCLAD prototypes
GELCLAD mock-ups and demos
GELCLAD final meeting