Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Tania Melnyczuk on Unsplash

Cellulose-based insulation made from recycled cardboard

Springwise ChangeNOW

The low-dust, fire-retardant insulation is easy to install and long-lasting

Spotted: The residential sector accounts for 21 per cent of total energy consumption in the US, with over half of a house’s energy usage coming from heating and cooling. Home insulation is one of the swiftest, easiest ways to improve the energy efficiency of a home, and cellulose could be one of the best sources of that change. 

Cleantech company CleanFiber uses recycled cardboard boxes – many of them from the millions of Amazon orders placed locally – as the base for its innovative new building insulation. CleanFiber insulation is made by using a proprietary liquid to separate the fibres that make up a cardboard box. The fibres are then infused with an all-borate, liquid fire-retardant before being dried and shredded. 

Borates help reduce smouldering and combustion should a fire break out. Adding the retardant to the insulation when it is wet creates a cleaner manufacturing process, by eliminating the need to add additional powders to the insulation after it is dried.  

The final product is a soft, dust-free insulation fibre and tests on building sites indicate that the cellulose insulation is easier to install because it doesn’t get caught in machinery during application. Additionally, during production, CleanFiber removes contaminants from the boxes, making the insulation better for the health of those that produce and install it, and those who live and work in buildings insulated with it.  

CleanFiber is scaling up its production facilities, as demand has already outstripped supply. The company is confident, however, that based on the volume of online sales, supply of waste cardboard will remain stable for many years.  

Paper and cardboard are versatile materials, and Springwise has spotted them being used as a component in lithium-ion batteries and as part of a DIY home air filter.

Written By: Keely Khoury



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