Wood Foam May Be the Answer to Eco-Friendly Insulation

| 3/20/2015 4:12:00 PM

Tags: wood foam, green building, green construction, sustainable research, James White, Pennsylvania,

A home must be insulated for several reasons. But speaking for efficiency, insulation helps reduce energy consumption. Even green homes must be insulated in some way, but most insulating foams are composed of petroleum – a material that's not at all eco-friendly. This creates a contradiction of sorts because it shows that even a green home can still be detrimental to the environment.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research in Germany have developed a new type of insulating foam that is much greener. The foam is actually made from wood, meaning it's much more eco-friendly in many ways, including how it’s disposed of.

How Wood Foam is Made

In order to create the foam, wood is ground into tiny particles that are so small they actually form a viscous-like base. A special type of gas is pumped into the solution, which gives it a frothy consistency. Then, the solution is allowed to harden, which researchers claim is sped up and "aided by natural substances contained in the wood."

This leaves a dry wood foam, which can be shaped to make the proper materials. The researchers have successfully turned it into rigid foam boards for use in walls and vertical positions, or flexible mats better suited for floor or ceiling use.

Professor Volker Thole of Fraunhofer, explains that the team was able to uphold industry standards with the resulting wood foam:

4/11/2015 11:09:12 AM

The first and biggest question I have is, where is the wood coming from to make this foam insulation? There are already massive amounts of trees being torn down for one reason or another.

3/27/2015 3:29:05 PM

I'd be wary of a wood-base foam, as our Pacific NW climate is conducive to mold, carpenter ants, and rot. The article needed to include R-value per inch of thickness, clear information about flammability, bug or mold repellence, and breathability within the walls it's in...and pricetag comparison. Did I miss a page? I tried going to the page of the company [a circuitous route, since it was not clear in this article], and sent them email asking questions. Question for Mother Earth News writers: How might wood foam insulation be better than cementitious foam insulations? Why haven't we heard more about cementicious foam insulations? Since cementicious foam or fiber insulations are fireproof, mold proof, bug proof, and very non-toxic, I would think Mother Earth News would jump to write articles about it!!!!

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