PATH Backs Research on Super Insulation Technology Development

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PATH, in conjunction with the NAHB Research Center and Dow Chemical Company, is exploring home product applications for a new class of insulation technology that promise dramatic residential home energy savings.

The technology called “vacuum insulation” works by removing gas molecules that transfer heat within an insulating space. The principle has been used successfully for years in vacuum-insulated containers to keep beverages hot or cold.Dow Chemical’s version of the technology “vacuum insulation panels” may have application in the residential housing industry.

The new panels conduct heat at one-sixth the rate of glass-fiber, a significant improvement likely to lead to substantial energy savings for a variety of applications. This energy efficient material is commercially available, but has not been specially targeted toward the home construction and remodeling sectors.

With PATH support, NAHB Research Center will conduct initial market studies to assess the potential for various applications of the technology (i.e. doors, walls, roofing products, garages, window frames etc.), conduct preliminary analysis of the potential energy-savings and work with DOW to evaluate the results of the studies and prioritize product development. DOW will provide manufacturing support for producing prototype products, improve them as necessary and produce them on a large scale for use by the housing industry.

Prototypes can be ready in for field trials within 12 to 18 months and full production shortly thereafter. The field trials also offer an opportunity to monitor the home’s performance and quantify the energy savings — information that will be disseminated under the PATH program. This technology promises to be one of the early successes of the PATH initiative.

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