Plant-based, natural building materials have the potential to boost energy savings for homeowners.
Over a three-year period, University of North Texas researchers developed and tested a low-cost process to prepare kenaf, a plant in the hibiscus family that is similar to bamboo, for use as a building material; specifically, kenaf is used to create structured insulated panel building materials.
Scientists worldwide are turning to plants as a resource for biodegradable, renewable and environmentally friendly products and materials that can reduce landfill waste, help the environment and cause little to no damage to natural ecosystems.
Insulation acts as a barrier to heat loss and heat gain, particularly in roofs and ceilings, walls and floors. It is the most practical and cost effective way to make a house more energy efficient, keeping it cooler in summer and warmer in winter and saving up to 40 per cent in heating and cooling bills. In addition, it helps maintain proper moisture control and ventilation which offers health benefits.
Kenaf fibers are an attractive prospect because they offer the same strength to weight ratio as glass fibers, which are currently used to insulate homes.
The researchers found that the kenaf materials, including composite panels, reduce energy consumption and provide up to 20 percent energy savings.
The development of natural fiber alternatives to fiberglass, and plant-modified structural foam, offers good option for home, automotive and consumer applications that
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