Innovation Exchange challenge: Non-combustible insulation materials/systems for modular buildings

Portakabin, working with Innovate UK KTN, seeks innovative ideas for more sustainable and non-combustible insulation in offsite construction.

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Successful applicants will be given an opportunity to pitch to the Challenger. The package may also include support from KTN, collaboration opportunities and more.

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As innovators in the modular world, Portakabin provides buildings for hire and sale, as well as supplying refurbished buildings and construction site accommodation. They deliver building solutions for organisations of any size, in sectors ranging from manufacturing, education and health to transport, utilities and construction.

To support the growth of their company and the move to reduce energy and carbon emissions whilst utilising more environment friendly and sustainable materials, Portakabin is looking to find organisations who can help it develop new thermal insulation materials/systems for use in the external surfaces (ground floor, walls and roofs) across their factory manufactured building modules.

Materials need to be:

  • suited to factory manufacturing and processing,
  • suitable to various locations in buildings,
  • scalable with secure supply chains and cost-effective.

Solutions are sought that offer:

  • Equal and ideally better thermal performance to low-density PU foam: 0.15 W/m²K or better
  • Much improved sustainability and recyclability to current low-density PU foam
  • Equal overall mass to mineral wool, ideally nearer to that of PU foam
  • Highly sustainable (aligning to the company’s Net Zero roadmap)
  • A panel system that can attain 60-minute fire resistance to BS EN 1364-1 and in which the insulation material meets, or offers performance near to, BS EN 13501 Class A2
  • Similar cost to the current system, either as direct cost or associated costs such as productivity or structure.
  • A solution that could be retrofitted to existing modular buildings would be desirable.
  • Minimal COSHH implications: e.g. avoid the need for wearing protective clothing and face masks

The thermal insulation is part of the external envelope system of permanent and hire buildings, it is to be appropriate to the European climate. The material is enclosed within panels so all work should be within a factory environment and it is not exposed to weathering mechanisms.

It is important that all processing is safe without specialised extraction, filtration and the like, further that should the panel be modified or damaged on site that it does not create a hard to manage COSHH risk.

Entrants to this competition must be:

  • Established businesses, startups, SMEs, or individual entrepreneurs
  • UK based or have the intention to set up a UK base
  • Universities or RTOs, if TRL5 and above

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