Manufacturing new technologies: Industry whim or sustainable future?

By Ian Gornall: Plant Manager (St Helens) of Knauf Insulation Northern Europe

New technologies can sometimes be seen as fads and only last a short while until the next innovation comes onto the market. For example, the likes of Samsung, Microsoft and Apple are constantly competing with one another to bring out the latest smartphone or tablet. However, when the overall performance of a building is dependent on products that have been manufactured with a new and innovative technology, it is imperative that they perform over the long term.

In 2009, Knauf Insulation introduced ECOSE® Technology into the manufacturing process for mineral wool insulation in the UK after five years intensive research and development. ECOSE technology is a formaldehyde-free binder which is based on rapidly renewable materials instead of petro-based chemicals and is used to bind the insulation together during production. This revolutionary new technology still leads the way four years after its introduction.

This development is part of the ongoing desire to not only provide the market with innovative products but also to meet the growing demand for sustainable construction products. With building regulations driving more stringent energy efficiency requirements and the Government setting ambitious carbon emission targets, it is no wonder that everyone involved in the construction supply chain is evaluating the sustainability of the products they specify, supply or use. We understand that new technologies can be perceived as a risk by other stakeholders in the industry so with ECOSE Technology we ensured that the fundamental performance characteristics of our mineral wool products were at least maintained through an extensive testing program at all sites. The binder is also up to 70% less energy intensive than traditional binders, which contributes to further lowering the expected GWP (Global Warming Potential).

Innovative technology is not something new to Knauf Insulation, as we constantly strive to develop more effective and sustainable manufacturing methods and processes which in turn deliver long term benefits to our customers. For instance, back in 2004 we introduced state of the art compression packaging technology. Our Supakube packaging allows products to be compressed up to ten times their original volume, resulting in less storage space being required, reduced transport costs and lower CO2 emissions

Knauf Insulation Supakube packaging; compression vs non compression.

Knauf Insulation Supakube packaging; compression vs non compression.©

Sustainability is certainly driving new developments in manufacturing. Four years on from the introduction of ECOSE Technology, Knauf Insulation continues to produce and supply technologically advanced products to an increasingly forward thinking market.

* Feature image courtesy of STILLFX at Shutterstock.

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