Cattails have long been used for various purposes, like cleaning wastewater at sewage treatment plants, for detoxifying soils, as raw material for handcrafted wickerwork, as means of nutrition and, in traditional medicine, as a healing plant for various illnesses. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP in Valley now want to use this gift of nature as a building material to wit, for the insulation of outer walls or reinforcement of plaster. Dr. Martin Krus, Head of Test Center at IBP, testifies as to the numerous positive, construction-related properties of this renewable raw material: "As one of nature's swamp plants, cattails are resistant to molds and are very well equipped to deal with moisture. The leaves of the plant have a fiber-reinforced supporting tissue that is filled up with a soft sponge tissue. Through this special construction, they are extraordinarily stable and possess an excellent insulating effect. This effect is also preserved in the finished products." The researcher already has such a product. Working in close consultation with cooperation partner typha technik Naturbaustoffe, he developed a magnesite-bound insulation panel made of Typha (Latin for "cattail") that already has a patent application pending. The panel features a low heat conductivity of 0.052 W/mK (watts per meter and Kelvin). It delivers excellent fireproofing, soundproofing and heat insulation, and is relatively permeable, but sufficiently tight so that, with most applications, one can dispense with a vapor control barrier. Most of all, the material can cope with high pressure parallel to the panel surface. The researcher and his team were able to validate the excellent values of the Typha panel following one-and-a-half years of measurements conducted in a traditional half-timbered home in Nuremberg. Its outer walls, as well as the timber work, were retrofitted with Typha. "The local craftsmen were enthused by this sustainable material," says Krus.
|Contact: Martin Krus|