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Innovative panels with recycled materials: Thermal and acoustic performance and Life Cycle Assessment

Ricciardi, P., Belloni, E., Cotana, F.
Applied energy 2014 v.134 pp. 150-162
absorption, acoustics, air, arithmetics, buildings, cameras, compliance, embodied energy, environmental impact, global warming potential, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, heat, heat tolerance, humidity, insulating materials, life cycle assessment, manufacturing, markets, recycled materials, textile fibers, thermal properties, trinitrotoluene, waste paper
Insulation is one of the most effective methods intended for reducing energy consumption in both heating and cooling of buildings. Selecting the right materials and determining the optimum insulation thickness in building insulation application is an important issue. Moreover it is important to use green insulating materials in order to limit the environmental impact in the use of these solutions. A growing interest is focused on the incorporation of low cost recycled materials in building products and their potential use as insulating panels for both new buildings and refurbishments.In this paper two panels were investigated, composed by waste paper and textile fibres, joined by glue, with a total thickness of 12mm and 20mm respectively. The study is focused on the thermal and acoustic characterisation of the panels, in order to provide accurate data for a reliable building integration.Thermal performance was evaluated by using the hot-box apparatus, according to UNI EN ISO 8990. A good thermal behaviour was found for all the investigated panels: k-values vary in the 0.034–0.039W/mK range. The investigated panels could be a valid solution in place of classic insulation systems, even though thermal resistance is strongly influenced by the environmental humidity, the rate of the compression, and the presence of air between the layers. Therefore a thermal infrared camera was also used during the measurements, aiming to investigate the weak points of the assembled panels and to select the positions of the sensors.The acoustic absorption coefficient was determined by means of a Kundt’s tube, in compliance with ISO 10534-2. The Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC – the arithmetic value of the absorption coefficient at the frequencies 250, 500, 1000 and 2000Hz) of the samples varies in 0.23–0.38 range, depending on the layer thickness.Finally an initial Life Cycle Assessment of the proposed solutions was considered and compared to the performance of other replaceable insulating materials. Results showed that the panel composed by recycled papers and textile fibres causes relative large energy consumptions and a high global warming potential. The importance of this kind of insulation system is due to the use of recycled materials: both the waste paper and the TNT fibres should be disposed by means of a large use of energy. This way they will be re-used and the cost for the production of the panels is very low. A disadvantage of these panels could be their high density (about 433kg/m³): the future step for this work will be the improvement of this new insulating type in order to obtain a competitive solution on the market. The manufacturing of lighter solutions will allow the panels to be more competitive on the market in terms of embodied energy and GHG emissions.