Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 2 - FOAM-BUILD (Functional Adaptive nano-Materials and technologies for energy efficient BUILDings)

Project Context and Objectives:
To comply with current and future building codes and regulations as well as to reduce the overall CO2 emissions it is necessary to improve building insulation systems. Therefore, the FoAM-BUILD project will develop thermoplastic particle foam using newly developed raw materials, additives and processing set-ups to reduce the thermal conductivity of the foam. A nano-scaled structure will be used for the particle foam cell morphology to achieve the targeted insulation behavior. New polymer blends and nano-scaled nucleating agents in combination with a new high-pressure drop rate expansion process was developed to realise the nano-cellular foam. Additional hybrid material were investigated to decrease the thermal conductivity standard EPS drastically.
To reduce waste, FoAM-BUILD will improve the long-term behaviour of ETICS and simultaneously reduce the renovation effort through the development of a new active moisture monitoring and control system to prevent the growth of algae and fungi on the façade surface. A control system was developed based on a sensor network to measure moisture and liquid water. Data from the sensors will be combined with an intelligent system for moisture prediction and the system will respond by activating a moisture control system. This will also lead to a healthier environment around the building, as no harmful substances will be used to avoid the growth of microorganisms.

Project Results:
A first LCA/LCC analysis has been performed showing the potential benefits of FoAM-BUILD developments. A more detailed analysis was carried out, highlighting particular topics, like the density of the insulation foam or the influence of the brominated flame retardant compared to a non-halogenated one. Also simulations regarding the thermal behaviour of buildings equipped with the new developments in three different European climates have been conducted, showing the potential regarding energy efficiency also in reference to new building regulations.
A search for standards concerning ETICS and the other developments of the project has been conducted and a detailed list of relevant standards has been established. This list will be updated throughout the project.
The growth of microorganisms like algae and fungi has been investigated under several static and dynamic conditions. Therefore, a new testing device has been developed and tested. Also CFD and hygrothermal simulations have been performed to investigate the influence of an air stream on the water content of a façade surface under different ambient conditions.
The gathered data serves as a basis for a sensor based moisture control system. A sensor network has been developed for monitoring relevant environmental data like temperature and humidity. A moisture control system is responding to certain environmental conditions to dry targeted areas of the façade. The moisture control system has been developed and constructed in small scale and is being tested indoors, outdoors and in climate chambers. Two test walls with areas of up to 25 m² have been built in Germany and England to evaluate the function of the moisture control system. Tests are running constantly to improve the control as well as the monitoring of the system.
New types of nucleating agents for particle foaming have been studied in an extrusion process. A wide range of cell sizes was created and it was possible to lower the cell size of polystyrene foams with low density. The autoclave process was introduced to further reduce the cell sizes. Nano-cellular foams have been achieved.
To eliminate halogenated flame retardants different halogen-free flame retardants in combination with synergists have been tested and flame retardant polymer blends have been foamed reaching flame retardancy according to standard DIN 4102 B2 with densities down to 22,5 kg/m³.
Two accelerated renders have been developed. Both renders are already commercially available and first revenues have been made.

Potential Impact:
By the end of the project new high insulation foam materials will have been developed and understood. This material will have a significantly lower thermal conductivity compared to standard insulation materials. When used in ETICS, energy savings due to lower heating or cooling costs occur and a thinner building envelope can be realized which induces new levels of architectural freedom.
The halogen-free flame retardant which will be developed and implemented in the foam will ensure a healthier environment due to the abstinence of e.g. bromine. This in turn results in an insulation material with high recyclability and fire safety.
A new moisture monitoring and prevention system will be established which hinders the growth of microorganisms on façades, and thus results in a healthier environment due to the replacement of fungicides and algaecides. Also the period between the renovations of the façade surface, e.g. by painting, is extended as until now the fungicide or algaecide paint needs to be refreshed every 2-5 years to obtain their effect. This leads to economic savings and also to optical benefits by avoiding stains of algae or fungi on the outer façade.
A new faster assembly method will decrease the time of installation of the ETICS system which reduces the overall costs of the system and therefore increases the acceptance to install such systems by the builders or owners of buildings.

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