Insulation made of cow manure

Dutch start-up BioBuilder, in collaboration with construction company Eric Kock and green gas company Groenewoud Gas, is working on developing a biobased insulation material made of cow manure.

In the Netherlands, several crises are taking place simultaneously. Amongst them is a surplus of nitrogen and CO2, caused largely by intensive livestock farming, but also by conventional construction materials such as concrete, steel and mineral wool. In addition, there is a shortage of suitable housing, and of course climate change.

BioBuilder aims to connect the construction sector with the agricultural sector. There are limits with how much manure can be used on the land, so the rest is waste. Cow manure has a fibrous texture, and has good insulating properties. Like other biobased insulation materials, like straw, roadside grass, and Miscanthus, manure also stores carbon.

To make the insulation material, fresh cow manure is brought to a fermenter. The methane present in the material is processed into green gas. After the material is heated to kill all pathogens, it is further processed and dried. The insulation material no longer smells and is applied in prefab elements to replace the more common mineral wool.

Currently, the project is testing various types of manure to indicate the fire safety and smell. In 2023, BioBuilder expects to realise a demo structure in the form of a mobile tiny house as proof of concept.

Image by JackieLou D via Pixabay