Popcorn is more than just a tasty snack to munch on while at the movies—it may soon be widely used as a natural and eco-friendly alternative to man made home insulation.
Scientists at Göttingen University in Germany have discovered that popcorn insulation boards had “excellent thermal insulation properties and good protection against fire.”
This is a valuable benefit as traditional manmade insulation is quite flammable, which makes it more likely for a fire to spread rapidly and fatally. Replacing traditional insulation with popcorn could help us avoid tragedies like the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire that killed 72 people in the blaze.
Furthermore, most home insulation is made out of plastic, and its production generates harmful carbon emissions. On the other hand, the team behind the popcorn insulation says that “the great advantage of this granular material is that it is a plant-based, environmentally friendly, and… sustainable alternative to the products derived from petroleum currently used in the industry.”
It is yet to be seen how durable the popcorn boards are compared to insulation that is already in use, and whether it will attract hungry wildlife, but even so, Göttingen University has already signed a license agreement with building materials company Bachl Group for the popcorn insulation production process.
According to Professor Alireza Kharazipour, head of the team that created the popcorn boards, “this new process, based on that of the plastics industry, enables the cost-effective production of insulation boards at an industrial scale. Especially in the field of insulation in construction, this ensures that natural insulation materials are no longer just niche products.”