Even though there is still clearly not enough being done, it is becoming increasingly clear that every move toward averting wide-sweeping global warming, as inconvenient as it may be, is a step in the right direction. Among other things, this calls for using sustainable materials in construction. Stricter energy efficiency regulations play a role here, while changes in society are seeing people turn their backs on plastic and demand near-natural substances derived from renewable raw materials as a form of insulation. The Chemistry and Process Engineering of Composites work group at the Büsgen Institute - an academic body within the Faculty of Forest Sciences and Forest Ecology at the University of Göttingen - focuses mainly on wooden materials and the use of alternative binding agents. After developing a lightweight chipboard with a middle layer made partially of popcorn granules, the group ultimately came up with the idea of creating products comprising nothing but popcorn and binding agents. The researchers are now unveiling their popcorn insulation panels to visitors from across the globe for the first time at HANNOVER MESSE 2019.
It is particularly popcorn's low bulk density and its consequently low thermal conductivity that make it perfect for use as an innovative insulation material in construction. In combination with near-natural or mineral-oil-based binding agents, popcorn can be used to create composites with different kinds of properties for a whole host of applications. With this in mind, the Büsgen Institute is focusing its research efforts on creating sufficiently durable board-type composites based on popcorn for use as insulation panels in drywall installation.