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Insulation material from plastic waste

Scientists from the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano have developed an insulating material obtained from microplastics out of the sea.


The team of researchers at the University of Bolzano, led by Marco Caniato of the Faculty of Science and Technology, reportedly succeeded in developing an innovative insulating material based on an extract of the marine algae agar agar. Recycling secondary microplastics from the sea is so difficult, he said, because the particles are often mixed with other non-plastic particles and coated in sea salt. To test their suitability for insulation, the researchers used comparable plastic waste from industrial and household sources and mixed them with a mixture of alginate for gelling and powder of calcium carbonate. After gelling, the samples were frozen and freeze-dried after 12 hours to remove the water. He said the porous material created at the end proved to be an extremely efficient thermal and acoustic insulator and could be used as an alternative to rock wool. Caniato has patented the process, he said. It would prove that with a sustainable, clean and ecological approach, it was possible to recycle marine waste and produce a product that is both ecologically and economically convincing. However, he said, it cannot yet be put to use because there is not yet an efficient way to retrieve microplastics from seawater in sufficiently large quantities.


  • (21.4.2021)
  • (4/22/2021)
  • Photo: © Free University of Bolzano

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