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Napier Innovation Improves Sound Thermal Insulation Homes

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Napier University researchers have developed a new product which can significantly improve the thermal efficiency of new homes. The product will be manufactured through a licence deal with Icopal, one of the world's largest specialist construction membrane manufacturers. The licence relates to an innovative solution to tackle heat loss, which can account for 10 to 20% in attached houses and flats. The product is also designed to achieve enhanced sound insulation and reduce air leakage in buildings.

The new product called 'Wall Cap' was developed through the Proof of Concept Programme  managed by Scottish Enterprise.   Through the Proof of Concept Programme, Scotland's world-renowned research is being transformed into companies with the potential to grow and become world leaders in their fields.

Wall Cap is designed for use in attached houses and flats, which make up 75% of the UK new housing market. The project was led by Sean Smith who is Professor of Construction Innovation within Napier's Building Performance Centre. Smith has high praise for the Scottish Enterprise team, "this project was the first one of its kind for the construction sector and we have had excellent support throughout the project from the Proof of Concept office. Building on previous research this support scheme allows specialists within universities the ability to take their ideas to market".

Smith outlined the background to the project and the key benefits "the funding allowed the research team to advance previous research at Napier which had identified potential sound and thermal insulation benefits of thin-technology membranes. Significant heat loss can occur in attached homes at the cavity party walls. Current industry products permit thermal convection losses to escape into the roof zones. The 3mm membrane, which will be launched including Icopal proprietary technology, prevents the cavity convection and can be incorporated into new build designs without changing the original design storey height. At present cavity convected heat is not included within new build regulations but yet is a major source of heat loss. The sound insulation benefits for flats and apartments will also allow house builders to achieve more credits for the Code for Sustainable Homes, which operates in England.

Most of the prototype development work was undertaken in Scotland at Hangar 17 a construction innovation test facility, where Napier University is the academic R&D partner.                                                                                                   

Icopal, which has UK offices in Cumbernauld, Belfast, Crawley, and Manchester, is also partnering with Cullen Building Products in Fife to supply the innovative metal connectors which accompany the membrane.

The enhanced sound insulation performance was of specific interest to Icopal's specialist subgroup Monarfloor Acoustic Systems.

Icopal's Managing director Jim Matheson commented "Our Monarfloor Acoustic team has been developing a number of robust, innovative and sustainable acoustic isolation products over the last two years.  The licence agreement for Wall Cap with Napier University has proven to be invaluable as initial site trials have demonstrated significant enhanced acoustic performance of our second generation products, allowing us to offer complete cost effective systems to our clients.  This licence development with Napier University will also enhance Icopal's existing patented thin membrane technology".

Photo / Images Attached

Photo - heat loss in attached homes due to cavity convection demonstrated by lack of ice or thin snow forming on roofs above party wall


About Napier University

Napier is a friendly, lively, modern University, with campuses conveniently located around south central Edinburgh - one of the UK's most student-friendly cities. Napier offers over 200 undergraduate and post graduate courses and has over 14,000 students from over 80 countries. Napier was ranked number one for Graduate Employability in Scotland (HESA 2008) and the number one modern university in Scotland - The Guardian University Guide (published in May 2008).