Conversion of Agricultural Waste into High Quality Insulation for Energy Conversion

Award Information
Department of Agriculture
Award Year:
Phase II
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Small Business Information
661 AIRPORT BLVD STE 1, Ann Arbor, MI, 48108
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Julien Marchal
Senior scientist
(734) 994-7035
Business Contact:
Julien Marchal
Senior scientist
(734) 994-7035
Research Institution:
The United States particularly through DOE and USDA has very strong and often integrated programs targeting the development of new energy sources (e.g. biofuels, wind energy, geothermal, etc) and improvements to sustainable energy sources especially solar power. Billions of dollars have been invested in diverse programs. In contrast, similar integrated efforts at similar scales directed towards new approaches to energy conservation (aside from lighting) have not received the same emphasis despite the fact that this should be of equal National importance. The byproducts of biofuels and direct burning processes (of agricultural wastes for example) will always contain a major inorganic fraction likely to be primarily silica because plants selectively extract and concentrate silica from the environment excluding heavy metals. Thus, the resulting silica is relatively pure compared with natural silica sources (e.g. sand), amorphous and high surface area allowing it to be chemically extracted at low temperatures with minimal costs. Mayaterials' researchers have developed a low temperature, green and inexpensive process to extract this silica from agricultural wastes, rice hull ash in particular. Using the various products of this process, Mayaterials is proposing to develop a new type of inexpensive vacuum insulation panels (VIPs). The use of VIPs in refrigeration and housing is currently limited in the USA due to their very high cost. By using agricultural waste as the raw ingredient and getting rid of the complex and expensive processes currently used to make good quality VIPs, Mayaterials plans to decrease the cost of VIPs several fold. This would allow for a more widespread use of VIP insulation which has the potential for tremendous energy savings if widely adopted. Just in the home refrigerator market, use of VIPs has the potential to save up to 76 Twh each year (50% higher than the USA total wind power electricity generated in 2008).

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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