Mixing wool with industrial waste to insulate homes

Mixing wool with industrial waste to insulate homes

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International masters student Ms Israa Bu Najmah and Flinders University postgrad Nic Lundquist with samples of the composite and Border Leicester fleece in the Chalker organic chemistry laboratory at Flinders University. Picture: supplied.

International masters student Ms Israa Bu Najmah and Flinders University postgrad Nic Lundquist with samples of the composite and Border Leicester fleece in the Chalker organic chemistry laboratory at Flinders University. Picture: supplied.

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Using wool as housing insulation is not new.

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Using wool as housing insulation is not new.

But blending wool with industrial waste to make a next generation product sure is.

Researchers at Adelaide's Flinders University are blending wool offcuts with waste cooking oil and sulfur to make what they call a sustainable housing insulation.

Scientists from Flinders Chalker Lab and colleagues at Deakin and Liverpool University collaborated to cook up the new product.

They say the blend is "a promising new model" for next-generation insulation - piggybacking on wool's natural low flammability but also to make significant energy savings for property owners and tenants.

The new composite is one of several exciting new composites and polysulfide polymers made from waste products that are now being commercialised, says lead author Associate Professor Justin Chalker, the New Innovators winner in the 2020 Prime Minister's Prizes for Science.

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"The aim of this new study was to evaluate a composite made from sulfur, canola oil, and wool as thermal insulation," Assoc. Prof. Chalker said.

"The material is prepared by hot pressing raw wool with a polymer made from sulfur and canola oil," he said.

"The promising mechanical and insulation properties of this composite bodes well for further exploration in energy saving insulation in our built environment."

The new study adds to a suite of other composites, such as a new type of building block and a renewable rubber material created in the Chalker Lab.

The long-term biodegradation of these materials in a safe and responsible way at the end of their life is also a target of the research.

The last decade has been described as the hottest on record, and reusing waste is one way to extend the life of billions of tonnes of natural resources consumed every year.

Funding for this research came from the Australian Research Council and the Royal Society with support from Flinders University Microscopy and Microanalysis Centre and SA node of the Australian National Fabrication Facility under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy to provide nano and microfabrication facilities for Australia's researchers.

Global company Clean Earth Technologies is commercialising the polymers for a range of applications - from removing mercury contamination from soil and retrieving oil after a large-scale spill, to a polymer to release fertiliser more slowly to reduce run-off, and facilitating a safer method of leaching and extracting gold.

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The story Mixing wool with industrial waste to insulate homes first appeared on Farm Online.

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