Promoting Innovation in Manufacturing

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Project context and objectives

NANOINSULATE will develop durable, robust, cost-effective opaque and transparent vacuum insulation panels (VIPs) incorporating new nanotechnology-based core materials (such as nanofoams and aerogel composites) and high-barrier films, resulting in panels that are up to four times more energy efficient than current solutions. These new systems will provide product lifetimes in excess of 50 years for new-build and retrofit building applications.

The successful entry of new nanotechnology-based insulation products to the transportation and refrigeration fields indicates that innovative insulation products should be explored in the building and construction sector, as this accounts for over 40 % of all energy usage. Among these innovative products, the development and use of VIPs is particularly advantageous as they are not only three to four times more energy efficient than conventional commercial counterparts but are also thinner and lighter and, thus, more resource-efficient than standard insulation systems. Furthermore, they are suitable not only for use in new buildings, but also for retrofitting older buildings, where installation space and simple component design are a premium. Robustness (both physical and in long term performance) and lower cost are key to success in the construction field.


The specific objectives and aims of the proposal are to develop robust new functionalised nanotechnology-based high energy efficient VIPs using novel low cost / high volume sustainable processes, thereby addressing the zero-carbon drivers of the European Union (EU) construction and modern buildings sector. These new lightweight / thin panel-systems will have in-service lifetimes, thermal and mechanical properties far exceeding those presently on the market, achieving the following objectives:

  • research and technological development (RTD) in the field of energy-efficient sustainable products with added functionality and processes;
  • the increased competitiveness of EU enterprises, large and small, through increased transnational research and technological collaboration;
  • demonstrable energy-efficiency savings, leading to significant reductions in EU energy consumption and greenhouse gases in the construction, retrofit and modern building sectors.

Expected deliverables

  • Develop novel nanostructured transparent composites of silica aerogels with polymers with extremely low thermal conductivity having superior mechanical properties to conventional silica aerogel panels.
  • Develop a suite of innovative nanostructured cost-effective nanofoams. Investigations at laboratory scale to synthesise and characterise these materials and relate the chemical and physical structure of the materials to their resultant properties will be undertaken. Novel nanostructured mechanically-stable core materials of organic nanoporous foams will be produced using low cost production processes, with very low thermal conductivities.
  • Investigate the development of novel film barriers that will have significantly reduced gas permeation rates compared with conventional barriers, which will result in increased service life, thus making them suitable for use in the building and construction sector.
  • Produce innovative VIP designs and novel VIP production methods for robustness and lower cost on a semi-industrial scale backed by powerful simulation tools that will effectively integrate the nanostructured core and barrier materials.
  • Validate model systems developed against powder-derived VIP systems and showcase at demonstration sites across the EU, in a number of different scenarios. This will demonstrate the significant commercial and market applicability.

 Highlights of most significant project non-confidential results so far

  1.  novel nanostructured translucent composites of silica aerogels with the polymer polydimethylsiloxane PDMS(OH) are successfully synthesised by a new deposition technique. This is a new material which warrants a patent application (Partner: KOÇ University).
  2. novel silica based aerogels are synthesised (50 x 50 cm) for transparent VIP production (Partner: AIRGLASS).
  3. new open porous monolithic materials are developed. The lowest thermal conductivity of the VIPs reached by using this material is 5.2 mW/m.K (Partner: BASF).
  4. high-barrier films with gas and water vapour transmission rates in the range of 10-3 cm3/( and g/m2.d (at 23 °C, 85% RH ) are produced (Partner: Hanita Coatings).
  5. the laminate with sandwich structure metallised polyethylene terephthalate (PETMET) / lacquer / Aluminium (Al) / adhesive / low density polyethylene (LDPE) showed very low level of water vapour transmission rate less than 0.01g/m2day. The lower permeation rates will result in increased service life making VIPs suitable for use in construction sector. (Partners: Hanita Coatings, Fraunhofer).
  6. VIP lifetime test procedures are being established for VIP type approval and durability testing for the first time (Partner: va-Q-tec).
  7. designs of VIP integration for the insulation of rainscreen cladding systems and external insulation for walls are recommended (Partner: Kingspan).
  8.  the design and specification of VIP production line have been successfully finalised for the demonstration of a continuous cost-effective VIP manufacturing route (Partner: Kingspan)
  9. the demonstration sites have been selected as Algete in Spain and Warszawa in Poland, in order to demonstrate the significant commercial and market applicability of the insulation materials developed (Partner: Acciona).
  10. the materials developed for VIP systems are being assessed in terms of their life cycle and end-of-life issues (Partner: Gaiker in cooperation with all the partners).
  11. Optim-R is now the brand name for Kingspan’s Vacuum Insulation Panels and methods of integration into construction systems are now well developed. We have now completed our first product data sheet for Optim-R. (Partner: Kingspan).