Researchers in the EU have developed low-cost pre-insulated building panels using locally sourced waste paper.

The EU-funded InsulaTFH project (“Enhanced insulation in timber-frame housing using recycled materials”) has developed a process for the mass production of pre-insulated panels at modest cost by using the cellulose fibres in waste paper.

Britain’s Cygnum Timber Frame Limited led project researchers in the development of methods for converting locally sourced waste paper into a pulp which possesses strong insulating properties, and can be employed as a cheap and environmentally friendly filler for timber building panels.

Cellulose, the organic compound which is employed as the chief ingredient in paper, is an excellent insulator, and has immense potential in the field of green building materials.

After converting the cellulose from waste paper into a pulp, the project saw it combined with fire retardant materials and used to fill timber panels. Following a process of hermetic sealing, the panels are then ready for usage on construction sites.

The mass production process developed by InsulaTFH is both thorough and precise, with each panel built to exact dimensions and sealing tape and membrane used to shore up the durability of the products by rendering them both watertight and airtight.

The use of recycled waste paper makes the process ecologically sound while the sourcing of these materials locally also cuts down on transportation costs, thus making it highly economical.

The system possesses the added advantages of broad applicability and ease of installation as the equipment required for the production process can be incorporated into any timber frame factory.

In addition to being more economical and environmentally friendly, the incorporation of the cellulose filler into panels during the process of mass production provides immense convenience to builders as it obviates the need for them to insert insulating material on-site following the construction of walls themselves.

The InsulaTFH team, who says the project’s goal from the outset was to create a competitive product, has already conducted a trial of the production process under real conditions, manufacturing 5130 square metres of paneling which has successfully passed field tests under both cold and hot climate conditions.

The InsulaTFH project received 700,000 euros in funding from the EU as part of the Eco-Innovation Programme, with participants in the project including partners from Ireland, Belgium and Germany.