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Thermulon – Production of high-performance insulation – Incorporating waste materials into the production process



Thermulon is a start-up company headquartered in the North East of England, creating novel chemical processes to produce **high-performance building
insulation materials**. Created in part in response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy of 2017, Thermulon started by exploring why flammable plastic based
insulation is used and what the current alternatives are.
Insulation is installed as panels, batts and blankets within the wall, roof and floor structure, applied specifically to reduce heat loss. The material achieves this
through its internal structure, consisting of a high volume fraction of nanopores with inherently low thermal conductivity which thereby limits conductive and
convective losses through the material.
Successive UK governments have committed to reducing CO2 emissions from buildings, with over 30% of the UK’s carbon emissions originating from fossil
fuels used to heat homes and offices. In June 2019, the commitment to cut down emissions was galvanised with the pledge to reach **carbon-neutrality by
2050**. Cutting down on emissions from buildings (operational as well as embodied carbon) is necessary to achieve this target.
Building regulations have been increasingly tightened to reduce thermal losses from buildings (consolidated in Building Regulations 2010; as amended). For
a given thermal conductivity, thermal performance can only be improved by increasing the layer thickness. Therefore builders are using thicker and thicker
insulating materials to meet the regulatory requirements; reducing living space.
Plastic-based insulation materials are used due to their high thermal efficiency, minimising the layer thickness, however they are combustible and nonbreathable.
This means they cannot be used on solid-wall or heritage buildings due to damp issues. This leaves the 7.7 million UK solid-wall homes with few
insulation options.
Some home-owners are willing to take up significant internal floorspace by installing low-performance mineral-wool style materials, but the majority just pay
the high heating bills, keeping their homes uninsulated at large monetary and carbon cost (~£435/year / 1770kg CO2; detached house).
Thermulon has developed a new manufacturing process for aerogel materials which have excellent thermal properties and are inherently **non-combustible
and breathable**. Working with The Welding Institute (TWI Ltd.), Thermulon will scale these materials up to produce a cost-effective insulation material for
the construction sector, to be incorporated into a space-saving insulating render/plaster for use on solid-wall buildings; **saving home-owners money and
reducing their carbon footprint.**