A team of Swiss scientists has developed a new construction material that could be a game-changer thanks to its insulation abilities.
As explained in Sci.News, a team of materials scientists from Empa (Swiss Federal Laboratory for Science and Technology) and the Slovak University of Technology has found a way to reduce lighting and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) energy demands without having to increase the thickness of the insulation layer.
By using silica aerogel granules, the scientists created an aerogel glass brick, which is a translucent and thermally insulating material. Not only is it a highly attractive solution that would improve visual comfort, but it would also help save heating costs by increasing solar gains and reducing the use of artificial light.
“This is the highest insulating performance of any brick found in the technical literature, let alone on the market. Additionally, it comes with the property of light transmission,” Empa researcher Jannis Wernery and his colleagues stated. “The aerogel glass brick is suitable for applications in which there are simultaneous requirements for high daylight penetration, glare protection, and privacy protection, such as in offices, libraries, and museums.”
Aerogel is a fascinating material known for its lightweight and insulating properties, and it can be used in various applications, including insulation for buildings and even in space technology by NASA. The researchers at Empa began their project years ago in hopes of discovering a way to utilize the material directly in building construction.
“Back in 2017, we had the idea of integrating the insulating material directly into a building brick and presented a new type of brick filled with aerogel, the so-called aerobrick,” the researchers stated.
Aerogel is just one of the many materials that are viable alternatives to concrete and becoming increasingly popular in the construction sector.
Researchers in England created a brick made out of bagasse, a byproduct of sugarcane, known as Sugarcrete. Not only is it an environmentally friendly and affordable alternative to traditional bricks, but Sugarcrete can be used as a brick, an insulating panel, or a load-bearing element.
Also, an invasive seaweed known as sargassum can be turned into bricks for hurricane-proof homes. Mycelium bricks made out of mushrooms, specifically microscopic fungi fibers that can be found in agricultural waste, are becoming a viable core material in buildings of the future.
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