When buildings are being insulated or torn down, a lot of waste "mineral wool"-type insulation ends up in the landfill. Thanks to new research, however, that material may soon instead find use in an improved type of construction mortar.

Mineral wool is made by spinning molten minerals, and according to Spain's Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, it accounts for approximately 60 percent of the insulating media currently used in construction. Unfortunately, there's not much that can be done with the scraps that are left over after insulation installations, or with the mangled bits that end up in demolition debris.

In collaboration with colleagues at Poland's Bialystok University of Technology, scientists from the Spanish university tried finding a new use for the waste material – they used fibers of it to replace about half of the sand aggregate in the mortar that's used to join bricks or concrete blocks together.

Because it's less dense than regular mortar, it was found to have a higher insulation value. And since it's also more flexible, it's better able to bend without breaking. Additionally, it's more eco-friendly – not only does it keep discarded mineral wool out of the landfill, but it also reduces the need to mine sand.

It should be noted that there are already mortars with similar qualities, which incorporate polymer fibers, although the production of those fibers requires a considerable amount of energy.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Construction and Building Materials.

Scientists at the National University of Singapore have also created what is claimed to be a better and more sustainable type of mortar, that incorporates wood waste.

View gallery - 2 images