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Development of novel building insulation materials, incorporating cellulose and biobased additives

Lopez Hurtado, Pablo. Development of novel building insulation materials, incorporating cellulose and biobased additives. PhD, Sciences des Agroressources, Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse, 2016

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Abstract

Cellulose insulation is manufactured from recycled paper fibres, treated with mineral additives acting as flame retardants and antifungals. Its consistency is similar to cotton wool. The fibres are sold in bulk to be blown into the walls and attics. Its thermal conductivity is around 0.04 W/m.K, which is comparable to glass wool, but it is made with recycled materials and has much lower embodied energy levels. It can be either blown dry or sprayed with water. The wet spray method for cellulose insulation has several benefits compared to the dry process. Since the cellulose fibres become rigid after drying, it prevents the compaction of the material thus avoiding thermal bridges in the building envelope. However, the time to reach the dry state may be very long and variable depending on the dosage used and the environmental conditions of application. There are many bio-based additives that can contribute to the reduction of this period and improve the cohesion of the material. This research project aims to find the optimal additive for this application while retaining the favourable properties of the insulating material. Two cellulose types have been characterized with regards to the properties of the fibres to determine their performance with water. Both samples showed differences in chemical composition, grain size, and morphology. The values of water retention, water adsorption isotherms and the proportions of free and bound water have been factors which have shown an influence on the drying of the insulation. Density, compressive strength, and thermal conductivity increased with moisture dosage. A minimum of 14 kPa for the compression module was defined as the resistance threshold to avoid settling. These properties were compared with those of the cellulose insulation compacted to dryness and the results showed the strong influence of the stiffening and pore closing process upon drying, on these properties. Potential bio-based additives were classified and characterized with regards between concentration, viscosity, and adhesive strength. A relationship between these parameters was established. Most showed Newtonian behaviour at low concentrations, with some non- Newtonian concentrations having a pumpable viscosity. Unfortunately several additives which showed good adhesive properties were too viscous and vice versa. A range of surfactants were also considered. Sprayable formulations were characterized with respect to their drying time, compressive strength and thermal conductivity. Additives which have shown positive contributions drying are the lignosulfonate and the cationic surfactant CTAB. The influence of these additives on drying, with varying weather, liquid dosage and thickness of insulation was defined with a numerical model through the WUFI software. Optimal conditions in which the lignosulfonate additive is more effective have been defined. A first assessment of the performance of new formulation in terms of fire and mould was made and indications for the continuation of the study of the material were formalized.

Item Type:PhD Thesis
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Institution:Université de Toulouse > Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse - Toulouse INP (FRANCE)
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Research Director:
Rigal, Luc and Vandenbossche Maréchal, Virginie
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Deposited On:09 Sep 2021 08:12

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