Superinsulation Materials Group

In the Superinsulation Materials Group, we develop the next-generation insulation materials with improved thermo-mechanical properties. Our activities range from fundamental research, industry-sponsored materials development, prototyping to the development of pilot-scale production technology.

 

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Improving the energy performance of the existing, mostly poorly insulated, building stock has the potential to reduce energy consumption for heating and cooling by >70%, corresponding to a reduction of about 25% of the total Swiss energy demand. Thus, improving building insulation is a key component to achieve the goals of the Swiss Energy Strategy 2050.

Aerogel insulation has a thermal conductivity, less than 15 mW/(m.K), that is half of that of conventional insulation, rock wool with 33 mW/(m.K) for example. As a result, the same energy performance can be achieved for half the insulation thickness. In the Superinsulation Materials Group, we are aiming to remove the two main barriers for the widespread adoption of aerogel insulation: production cost and mechanical strength. As the thermal performance of the walls improves with U values below 0.2 W/(m2.K), windows become a weak link in the building envelope even in the case of advanced triple glazing with U-value around 0.7 W/(m2.K). In contrast, vacuum insulation glazing (VIG) has the potential to reach U-values as low as 0.3 W/(m2.K) approaching those of the walls. In the Superinsulation Materials Group, we are prototyping vacuum insulation glazing with a novel, flexible edge-seal. Our main research areas are: