Scientists from the Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá, Centro Regional de Azuero in Panama are creating insulation material for the construction industry using a mixture of recycled newspaper and rice husks.

To create the insulation, the team of scientists — hoping to reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing conventional insulation materials — combined rice husks, which is agricultural waste, and cellulose derived from recycled and shredded newspapers.

Source: Universidad Tecnológica de PanamáSource: Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá

In addition to the recycled and shredded newspaper and the shredded rice husks, the team added borax, which is a colorless crystalline salt that possesses fire retardant properties and is resistant to fungi, and bound all of the ingredients together with glue.

When tested in the lab, the final product demonstrated thermal conductivity similar to that of conventional insulation, but researchers caution that additional testing needs to be conducted on the material to determine its suitability for insulation.

"It can be inferred that the material holds potential applications across various engineering domains, including the production of lightweight components, construction panels, and sustainable packaging,” the researchers explained.

An article detailing the rice husk and newspaper-derived insulation material, “Rice husk and recycled newspaper may be the eco-friendly insulation material of the future,” appears in the journal Frontiers in Built Environment.

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