September 4, 2018 - Vacuum insulation technology called modified atmosphere insulation, or MAI, could be a viable solution for improving the energy performance of buildings, based on a study by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and industry partners. ORNL researchers used a specialized environmental chamber to characterize panels containing foam-encapsulated MAI cores and exposed them to outdoor weatherization tests via real building applications. Laboratory experiments verified the panels’ thermal resistance to heat flow to be at least twice that of current building insulation materials made of plastic foams, cellulose or fiberglass. “Buildings consume 40 percent of the nation’s energy and about 20 percent of the buildings’ portion is due to heat gains or losses through the building enclosure,” said ORNL’s Kaushik Biswas, lead coauthor of the study. “We’ve proven that MAI-based composites are technically viable options for buildings providing higher performance than current insulations.” The team’s results were published in the journal Applied Energy.