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Grab Your Popcorn!

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Göttingen, Germany – Popcorn Insulation? With construction insulation as a major topic, the goal of lowering heating costs and CO2 emissions has led forest scientists to turn to environmentally friendly and sustainable insulation methods: popcorn.

Researchers have developed a method for transforming granulated popcorn into insulation boards. The granular material has incredible thermal insulation properties and protects against fire, according to a research group at the University of Gottingen studying the manufacturing process.

Unlike petroleum-based insulation, plant-based insulation is made from renewable resources, is durable enough to reuse, and is simple to recycle. Its water repellency makes it useful in packaging as well for supply chains of all products.

Scientists are hopeful that popcorn can be used to replace expanded polystyrene foam, which is used not only in insulation but also in millions of disposable food containers and shipping materials.

Although EPS is a popular product due to its low cost and light weight, the fiber is non-biodegradable and thus cannot be recycled.

Popcorn, on the other hand, absorbs heat better, is less flammable, produces biogas, and when discarded, can be used as animal food.

The market is dominated by traditional insulation materials made of plastics or mineral fiber, which account for approximately 90% of the market. In fact, petroleum-derived plastics are used for exterior insulation.

Could sustainable materials be used to replace current rigids and blown in insulations?

Professor Alireza Kharazipour

“This new process, based on that of the plastics industry, enables the cost-effective production of insulation boards at an industrial scale,”

explains Professor Alireza Kharazipour, the group’s leader.

“Especially in the field of insulation in construction, this ensures that natural insulation materials are no longer just niche products.”

Furthermore, the new popcorn products have water-repellent properties, which expands their practical applications and extends their useful life.

Michael Küblbeck, group Managing Director of Bachl’s exclusive divisional licensing partner, continues:

“We are thrilled to be launching such an innovative popcorn insulation product onto the market in collaboration with the University of Göttingen. This is a significant step forward in our strategic development toward becoming an integrated, multi-material insulation supplier. Popcorn insulation perfectly complements our quality range, allowing us to respond even more precisely to the market’s and our customers’ diverse needs.”

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of the University of Göttingen Public Law Foundation, mediated the license agreement between the University and Bachl. The agency works for a total of nine universities and scientific institutions in Lower Saxony, examining scientific inventions for patentability and economic potential. It then handles global marketing as well as negotiating, supervising, and monitoring licensing agreements. Projects in biomedicine, medical technology, metrology, chemistry, physics, forestry, and agricultural sciences are currently included in the portfolio.

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