This PhD is aligned with the European collaborative project ISOBIO, coordinated by TWI Ltd. This project aims at developing a new approach to fabricate low embodied energy insulating materials made from bio-derived aggregates (e.g. straw or hemp shivs) and binders. Such materials can provide good thermal insulation and humidity buffering, however bio-based materials have an inherent risk of low fire resistance and water penetration that could lead to condensation and rotting.
In order to maintain the structure integrity of a building, these issues need to be addressed.
The work carried out during this PhD is focusing on developing a single sol-gel treatment with functionalised silica nanoparticles. This will bring hydrophobicity to the bio-based materials, fire retardancy and maintain the materials' breathability for a cleaner and safer indoor environment to live in.