Insulation

  • ​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.
  • ​For years now, scientists have marvelled at the insulating qualities of polar bear fur, suggesting that it could inspire manmade heat-retaining materials. Well, Chinese researchers have now developed just such a substance, which reportedly outperforms real fur.
  • ​Styrofoam isn't eco-friendly stuff. It's made from petroleum, it can't be efficiently recycled, it's non-biodegradable, and it creates pollution when burned. A new plant-based foam reportedly has none of those drawbacks, however, plus it's claimed to actually insulate better than regular Styrofoam.
  • ​Back in 2014, we heard how scientists from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research had developed a wood-based foam that could be used as eco-friendly insulation. Now, they've combined it with metal to create a composite that has a much wider range of potential applications.
  • Aerogels are among the best thermal insulators, but their cloudy appearance doesn't work for windows, one of the worst offenders for letting heat escape a building. Now, researchers at Colorado University Boulder have found a way to make them transparent, recycling a beer by-product in the process.
  • Science
    ​A couple of years ago, researchers from MIT created a beaver fur-inspired material that could be used to produce warmer wetsuits. Now, a different group of MIT scientists have devised a process that lets existing wetsuits retain body heat three times longer than normal.
  • University of Maryland engineers have created a new insulating material capable of blocking at least 10 degrees more heat than styrofoam or silica aerogel. It’s also 30 times stronger than styrofoam, and appears to be much more environmentally friendly.
  • Why bother adding a layer of insulation to a brick wall, if you can just build that wall using hollow bricks that are stuffed with insulation? That's the thinking behind bricks which incorporate materials such as perlite. Now, scientists have created the best-insulating brick yet, using aerogel.
  • ​Although ceramics are known for being able to withstand high temperatures, they also have a reputation for being brittle. That's not the case, however, with a spongey new material made from ceramic nanofibers. It could find use in high-temperature insulation or water filtration.
  • If you're a regular camper, you probably know what it's like to pitch a tent on a warm evening and wake up the next morning feeling like you're sleeping in an oven. Cold weather camping can be just as grim, too. Derek O'Sullivan reckons he's solved these issues with his Thermo Tent.
  • A house made from straw didn't work out so well in the story of the Three Little Pigs, but maybe it's not such a bad idea after all. Sustainable building firm BaleHaus recently unveiled some new straw homes which promise an incredible 90 percent fuel bill reduction.
  • Researchers in Spain have managed to turn waste material from orange trees into high-performance acoustic insulation. The new material is more environmentally friendly to produce and an improvement in terms of acoustic insulation compared to conventional laminated gypsum boards.