Throughout much of the year, Mediterranean beaches are littered with clumps of Posidonia oceanica seaweed, also known as Neptune grass. The plant often winds up in landfills, yet this widely abundant natural material has many positive characteristics that make it too valuable for the trash heap. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT noted the seaweed’s high insulating value, in addition to its mold resistance and low flammability, and speculated about its use as a building product.
They developed a method of processing the material whereby they break up the clumps and cut them into short fibers. This loose fill is suitable for blown insulation applications in building cavities such as walls, roofs, and ceilings. In this function, the Posidonia fibers exhibit excellent rot resistance as well as the ability to absorb and release water vapor without diminished insulating capacity. Furthermore, the Fraunhofer process—which is now employed by NeptuTherm to make a commercial product—does not require any chemical additives.
Contact: Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT, Pfinztal, Germany.
For more information, see Transmaterial Next: A Catalog of Materials that Redefine Our Future