SBIR Phase I:New Sustainable Expanded Urethane-Ceramic Composite Materials for Thermal Management Applications

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
NuForm Materials, LLC
939 Luke Road, Sadieville, KY, 40370
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Brock Marrs
(859) 489-3341
Business Contact:
Brock Marrs
(859) 489-3341
Research Institution:
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will determine the feasibility of a new composite foam material for thermal insulation applications. Residual energy losses due to leaky insulation in the nation's buildings (commercial and residential) contribute to the inefficiency and instability in the electrical grid. This problem can be addressed with new and improved building materials. In this project, we will use ceramics recycled from discarded coal combustion ash as an additive in polyurethane foam, which is one of the highest-performance insulating materials available. The ash derived ceramics (ADCs) will replace halogenated flame retardants, which pose health risks during handling and combustion. The incombustible ADCs add strength to the foam without disrupting the closed cell structure that gives polyurethane its insulating capability. As a result, incorporation of ADCs will extend the applicability of polyurethane foam to structural applications, such as roof underlayment, subfloors, and sidewalls. The new composite foam to be demonstrated will be a safe and green alternative to traditional insulating materials, which will help improve the energy efficiency of our buildings and, thus, the nation's electric grid. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is multi-faceted and far-reaching. Polyurethane foam is one of the best insulating materials available; yet, its flammability and combustion byproducts limit its share of the insulating materials market to 3.4% ($212 million). Incorporating ceramics recycled from coal combustion ash into the polyurethane foam is a safe, green, and cost-effective mechanism for growing the market for polyurethane foams and replacing traditional insulating materials like fiberglass. Ash derived ceramics are incombustible and serve as a flame retardant in the foam, making it safe and greatly reducing the negative environmental impacts of the material. Furthermore, the raw material used in the production of ADCs, coal combustion ash, is in oversupply in the Appalachian region. Not only will ash derived ceramics improve the performance of polyurethane foam, but their incorporation into new value-added products will beautify the region and provide economic stimulus in a depressed area. Ultimately, incorporating this high efficiency insulating material into new and retrofit construction will ease the utility cost burden on consumers and contribute to the nation's energy efficiency and security.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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