Eco-friendly Materials 

BIOBUILD is replacing high environmental footprint materials with novel bio-based materials. The wallboards and parquet for the buildings will be bound by bio-based binders and incorporate bioPCMs for thermal energy storage. Three bio-binders will be tested, made of plant oils, lignin and fungal mycelia.

Plant Oil Resins

Currently, plant oil derivates are used mostly as plasticizers and inks with limited applications in the sector of bio-binders. Plant oil-based polymers are polymers derived from renewable plant oils, such as soybean oils, linseed oil and corn oil. They are considered environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional polymers as they as derived from renewable resources which are biodegradable. These polymers find applications in a wide range of industries including but not limited to, construction, contributing to the reduction of dependency on fossil fuels and environmental footprints.

Plant Oil Resins, BIOBUILD Project

 In BIOBUILD, plant oils and non-edible animal fats are used as starting materials to produce fatty acids and organic compounds such as bioPCMs. The project explores linseed oils. Linseed has an exceptional polymerization capability owing to its higher content of double bonds, making it a natural and suitable candidate for chemical modifications. Another advantage is that it is compatible with bioPCMs and wood structure due to the natural composition. Through BIOBUILD, such non-edible animal fats and plant-based binders will be developed to foster innovation, sustainability, and the production of bio-based binders.

Lignin

In today’s industrial processes, harmful chemical catalysts are predominantly used. A promising way to enhance their economic viability and sustainability involves substituting enzymes, particularly laccases, which are well-suited for modifying lignocellulose. Lignin, representing 30% of all non-fossil based organic carbon in lignocellulosic biomass, is recognised as a potential raw material to replace depleting fossil-based resources.

Currently, fossil-based resources provide approximately 86% of energy and 96% of organic chemicals and materials in our modern economy. Technical lignins are side streams of the pulp and paper industry typically burned for energy production. However, due to its chemical composition, technical lignin is suitable for higher value applications. By employing enzymes as natural biocatalysts, lignosulfontes can be modified to produce polymeric materials suitable for the construction industry.

BIOBUILD aims to develop lignin-based binders for wall boards. These binders are intended to have similar or superior properties to conventional wallboards in terms of stability and insulation, with reduced environmental impact.

Fungal Mycelia

Mycelium-based materials that contain bioPCM (Phase Change Material) are a fully bio-based solution for thermal energy storage in buildings. The properties of mycelia can be tailored for various applications, ensuring a safe and entirely bio-based product. Mycelium is the vegetative body of fungi, acting as a key living ingredient able to colonise and bind together natural fibers.

As mycelia can grow on a variety of substrates, including wood fibers, to form a composite through a natural process, it does not generate excess waste and it requires no additional energy input. Due to its low thermal conductivity, high sound absorption and fire safe properties, mycelia represent an innovative, valuable, high quality and functional alternative to traditional construction materials such as synthetic foams and engineered wood.

Mycelia are particularly well-suited for low-density semi-structural applications such as floors, furniture and decking. Additionally, mycelia composites contribute to environmental sustainability by reducing CO2 emissions, minimising water and energy consumption as well as lowering the costs.

 At the end of their lifespan, they can easily be shredded and at least 30% recycled into new bio-composites, making them an ideal candidate for green products in the building industry.

In BIOBUILD, mycelia grow on bio-PCM impregnated fibers, acting as a binder in the novel bio-composites. These mycelium-based wallboards are inherently sustainable, enhancing the thermal efficiency of buildings and reducing the reliance on non-European and unsustainable resources for heating. They represent a valuable, practical and environmentally conscious alternative to traditional construction materials, with the potential to reduce the environmental footprint of buildings in line with emerging global challenges and regulations.

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Production Processes