University of Applied Sciences (HTWK): Sustai...
University of Applied Sciences (HTWK)

Sustainable buildings with intelligent lightweight materials

Innovative insulation material Slentex (building element; source: HTWK Leipzig)
Innovative insulation material Slentex (building element; source: HTWK Leipzig)

Buildings account for approx. 40 % of total energy consumption and approx. 36 % of all CO2 emissions in Europe. As the EU climate targets for 2030 call for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by more than half compared to the emissions of 1990 and also aim for climate neutrality by 2050, there is an urgent need for a fundamental change in the way resources are used. Efficient materials and technologies for the construction sector are needed all across Europe.

The EU Commission has therefore approved an interdisciplinary research project in the Horizon 2020 framework program that is dedicated to precisely this question. The HTWK is involved in that project. A total of 27 partners from 14 different European countries are conducting joint research in the iClimaBuilt project (Functional and advanced insulating and energy harvesting/storage materials across climate adaptive building envelopes, 2021-2025). The project deals with the development of suitable intelligent lightweight materials for the building sector and technologies for the integration of energy storage and energy recovery systems in building envelopes. The budget totals around € 16.5 million.
The researchers from the HTWK – in collaboration with the Institute of Lightweight Engineering and Polymer Technology and the Institute for Concrete Structures at TU Dresden/Germany – particularly aim to make textile reinforced concrete structures (TRC) more sustainable.

Renewable and recycled materials
Among other things, the researchers are focusing in iClimaBuilt on the development of carbon fibers from renewable raw materials for reinforcement systems, the integration of cellular ultra-light concrete (CLC) with low thermal conductivity into TRC structures or the use of so-called aerogels as insulating material in facade elements. Partially, raw materials from industrial waste are also reused in the facade elements. They are convinced that the developments in the project on lightweight solutions in the building sector will substantially contribute to the recently proclaimed 'Green Deal' of the EU Commission to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent.
Since the energy consumption of buildings also strongly depends on the climate and local weather conditions, the sustainable solutions for building envelopes developed in iClimaBuilt will also be subjected to long-term tests under real conditions in 5 so-called "climate locations" – distributed all across Europe. The tests planned for the climate zone of Central and Eastern Europe will be carried out in the "valid lab" of the HTWK and in the project building CUBE at TU Dresden, which is scheduled for completion in 2022. Through its interdisciplinary approach, the project ultimately aims to develop Zero Emission Buildings (ZEB's), i.e. buildings that produce no or minimal emissions. iClimaBuilt acts as a "bridge" between the so-called upstream industry – raw material suppliers, system and component suppliers, service providers – and the downstream industry, i.e. the end-users – in the sense of a climate-oriented circular economy. Through its open-access approach, iClimaBuilt is also designed to support small high-tech companies in the process to test, evaluate and improve their new technological solutions.
In a first step, prototypes for various TRC facade elements are now being developed at the HTWK. In the process, the university is collaborating with researchers from the Research Institutes of Sweden RISE, Gothenburg/Sweden, the FenX AG, Zurich/Switzerland, the TU Dresden and the TU Hamburg/Germany. The first prototypes are to be completed this year.

According to the 2013 revision of the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), since 2020 all new buildings in the EU should be so-called "nearly Zero Emission Buildings (nZEB)", i.e. have a very low energy demand, preferably covered by renewable energy sources.
Further international partners are: NTU Athens/Greece, NTNU Trondheim/Norway, Fraunhofer ISE, Freiburg/Germany, Politecnico di Torino Italy, INEGI, Porto/Portugal, University of Birmingham/UK, University of Strathclyde/UK, Instituto Tecnologico de Aragon/Spain and many industrial partners.

Innovative insulation material Slentex (building element; source: HTWK Leipzig)


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