Scientists invent environmentally-friendly insulation made of popcorn

·2-min read
The material is hard-wearing and waterproof (University of Gottingen)
An environmentally-friendly form of insulation manufactured sustainably from popcorn. (University of Göttingen)

Insulation is set to become increasingly important in the coming decades, as the UK seeks to limit carbon emissions.

Now, a new environmentally-friendly form of insulation has been manufactured sustainably from popcorn.

The Swedish-designed material is fireproof, water-repellent and recyclable.

That separates it from most insulation materials made of plastics or mineral fibre, which have about a 90% market share.

Plastics derived from oil are often used for insulation.

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Researchers at the University of Göttingen in Germany have developed a process by which insulation boards made of "granulated" popcorn can be produced with excellent thermal insulation properties and good protection against fire.

The great advantage of this granular material is that it is plant-based, environmentally friendly and sustainable – and water-repellent.

Good exterior insulation reduces heating costs, which means lower carbon dioxide emissions.

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Professor Alireza Kharazipour, head of the research group, said: "This new process, based on that of the plastics industry, enables the cost-effective production of insulation boards at an industrial scale."

Michael Kublbeck, group managing director of licensing partner Bachl, added: "Especially in the field of insulation in construction, this ensures that natural insulation materials are no longer just niche products. Popcorn insulation complements our quality range perfectly."

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Net zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas emitted and the amount removed from the atmosphere, by plants or by new technologies such as carbon capture.

At net zero the two statistics will cancel each other out, meaning no new CO2 is added to the atmosphere.

To achieve this, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that global emissions must fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030.

Achieving net zero by 2050 will give the world a good chance of limiting the rise in average temperatures this century to 1.5C above pre-industrial times.

Under the 2015 Paris accord, nearly 200 countries pledged to keep warming to "well below" 2C, and strive for a ceiling of 1.5C to prevent sea level rises and other negative impacts.

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