Research Project Summary Information
Development and Demonstration of alternative insulation material(16995)
Ecovative Design LLC
Petrol-derived insulations, such as expanded polystyrene (EPS) and polyisocyanurate (polyiso), presently dominate the rigid board insulation market, both domestically and abroad. These materials are dependent upon a solitary feedstock, petroleum, which is an inherently unsustainable, finite resource. Furthermore, production of the aforementioned materials consumes an exorbitant amount of energy due to the great distance petroleum is transported and the procedures required to produce the chemical precursors. While EPS and polyiso foams offer superb thermal conductivity, their production reduces the petroleum available for other functions, such as transportation. When the Contractor, Ecovative Design completed a recent NYSERDA project for an alternative insulation material it provided the impetus for this project. That project produced samples with the same thermal performance as EPS, using organic production methods.
The Contractor will conduct extensive ASTM tests to determine structural properties of their material in a core application, as well as accelerated life cycle analysis tests to determine the system’s tolerance to varying climatic conditions. Tests for volatile organic compound out gassing and sound transmission will be conducted as well. Project results will be used to demonstrate the performance of Greensulate™ insulation for structural insulation panel manufacturers and modular home factories to consider.
The Contractor has developed an advanced biomaterial that is comprised of agricultural byproducts bound by a natural resin (mycelium). The biomaterial institutes regionally sourced agricultural wastes from within the United States, which serve as inexpensive bulking agents that achieve the desired thermal, acoustical and structural performance, prevalent in a good insulating board. The vegetative growth of a filamentous fungus, mycelium, is a tenacious bonding agent that is grown in five days and surpasses the strength of most petrol-derived foams (i.e. expanded polystyrene, EPS). The biomaterial will compete favorably with EPS in the following: reduced manufacturing costs due to the reduction of glue, disposal costs due to reduced decomposition time and aerobic composting.
Testing determined that the mycelium bond formed at the interface of insulation and structural sheathing, as opposed to the PU glue had two principle benefits: (1) removes the most expensive consumable from the process at no additional cost; and (2) the physical performance is enhanced since adhesion occurs across the entire surface of the panel. The mycelium bond process only requires an additional 24 hours to set, which does not pose a production issue. This inherent property of the mycelium can reduce the adoption time for the perceived new technology, since the biomaterial is positioned to retain a comparable price point to expanded polystyrene (EPS) at $4/ft3.
The removal of the PU glue will grant a sustainable competitive advantage over the current state of bonding techniques. From all of the tested properties; transverse loading, indoor air quality, sound attenuation and aging, the mycelium based SIP's performed exceptionally well. What few anomalies that occurred, were explained by the composition of the growth and agents that reacted unfavorably.
Ecovative Design LLC
70 Cohoes Ave
Green Island, NY 12183
Building Construction Methods
NYSERDA Contact Information
R&D -Transport & Power Systems