Switchable thermal insulation

switchable thermal insulation

Plus energy wall. Graphic: I[n]solation UG

A Bielefeld company has developed a technology that combines insulation and solar energy use

The insulation of houses is a promising method to save energy, but often leads to problems with the current state of standard technology (cf. Slowly dam the dammer). However, there are also companies that do not stop at the production of polystyrene boards, but develop dam technology further and "intelligent" want to make. One of these companies is the Bielefeld-based I[n]solation UG.

The name is composed of the words "Insulation" and "Insulation" together. Insulation stands for the reduction of heat loss, insolation for the use of solar energy. Sergey Kvasnin, the managing director of I[n]solation UG, believes that in the past the policy in Germany focused too much on isolation and lost sight of the possibilities of insolation. "With each new amendment to the EnEV [Energy Saving Ordinance]", according to Kvasnin, "we isolate ourselves more and more from the natural warmth" – and that, according to him, leads to, "that we then bring a fraction of the actually abundant solar energy back into the house via an increasingly lossy detour blob", which in his opinion "only conditionally" is sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Kvasnin’s Plusenergiewand dam system, developed together with the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences, therefore aims to combine thermal damming and solar energy use. This happens because the dam can be switched on and off. When it is turned off, the wall is warmed by the sun’s rays. If you turn it on (automatically or manually), it reflects the sun’s rays and you save on air conditioning.

The system can be switched on and off due to the fact that the insulation is not made of polystyrene, but of several layers of aluminum-coated polyethylene terephthalate foils, which are moved like roller blinds. The plastic, also known by its abbreviation PET, has the advantage of being very cheap, which also has a positive effect on the purchase price of the system Kvasnin can be installed not only on residential buildings with traditional facades and windows, but also on glass facades. According to his calculation, this results in a price advantage of 20 euros per year and square meter compared to conventional warm insulation and a carbon dioxide saving of up to 40 kilograms.

Problem of monument protection

The system was not allowed to be used on numerous listed buildings, which are becoming more and more common in Germany (cf. The state as a messie). For such houses, Hasit, in cooperation with the Swiss Materials Testing and Research Institute (EMPA), has developed an aerogel plaster with air-filled silicate spheres that insulate the walls. However, it can only be used if the authorities for the protection of historical monuments do not insist on the use of traditional sand plaster, as it was used in the centuries when the buildings were built.

Interior dams, which some historic preservation authorities approve as an alternative, have the disadvantage of easily accumulating moisture on interior walls and leading to toxic mold growth. Dam panel suppliers try to counter this effect with capillary-active materials such as calcium silicate panels, on the inside of which unsightly crystals can, however, form. Are the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Environment serious about their unpublished goal of having old buildings retrofitted by 2050 in such a way that they are "largely climate-neutral" they will therefore probably not be able to avoid a significant relaxation of the regulations on the protection of historical monuments.

Home Automation

The automation of air and heating is a complement or an alternative to the damming of houses, as propagated by the Botropian professor Viktor Grinewitschus. He compares the savings that are possible with those achieved by intelligent systems in automobiles: People theoretically know what they need to do to save on heating costs, but they don’t do it consistently because they are busy doing other things. That is why Grinewitschus relies on an "Home Automation", which takes this task from the inhabitants.