Wood foam is a new sustainable thermal insulation material that is recently developed by researchers at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research.
Wood foam offers the same performance as petrochemical plastic insulation materials such as Polyurethane and Expanded polystyrene, but petrochemicals is not environmenal friendly, and wood foam is made from sustainable raw materials.
The foam is produced by grinding the wood particles very finely to a slimy mass, then gas is added to expanded it into a frothy foam and then hardened. The hardening process is aided with substances contained in the wood itself. Finally, the lightweight wood foam as base material is made into rigid foam boards and flexible foam mats.
There are some other wood-based insulation materials already existed, like mats made from wood fibers and wood wool. But they tend to shed fibers and are less stable in shape than plastic insulation materials.
The researchers of Fraunhofer is now trying to find the best chioce of tree species to be the raw material. And they are also developing industrial scale production process for the foam wood.
As more and more attention is paid to enviromental effect. Wood foam is an promising alternative in replacing spray foam insulation in builing insulation and also plyurethane boards and expanded polystyrene in packaging.
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