German scientists find new use for tree bark

Friday, November 9, 2012

One of Germany's latest eco-breakthroughs comes from the University of Freiburg's Biofoambark project. Researchers there are trying to green up the insulation foam used in construction, by replacing its petroleum-based ingredients with a naturally-occurring compound that ordinarily goes to waste in the lumber industry.

The raw material for the biofoam is tannin, a compound found in tree bark. Properly processed, it can be used to produce hard foams that are not only good for insulation for buildings and molded auto parts, but that also have flame-resistant properties. It’s also possible that the foams could come to replace the toxic,  polystyrene (more commonly known as Styrofoam).

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