FREIBURG, GERMANY (Dec. 11, 12:10 p.m. ET) — A project at the Freiburg Materials Research Center that aims to produce insulating foam using extracts from tree bark has won prizes for the scientists involved.
Leader of the project professor Marie-Pierre Laborie, from the faculty of forest and environmental sciences of the University of Freiburg, has been named “German High Tech Champion,” by the Fraunhofer Association in the category “Green Buildings.”
The Freiburg center says that Laborie's research team makes hard foams using tannin, a compound found in tree bark, typically left over as a waste product in the lumber industry.
Since the foams have good insulating and flame-resistant properties, they can be used predominantly as insulating material for buildings and molded automobile parts, according to the center.
Also they could be used as catalysts or filters for heavy metals and as a replacement for packaging materials like polystyrene foam. And Freiburg claims they will “even be useful after the products themselves are worn out,” since a further goal is to convert the foams into biofuel.
The Biofoambark work is being supported by the Agency for Renewable Resources with funds from the German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Consumer Protection.