Final Report: UltraCell - Advanced Cellulose InsulationEPA Contract Number: EPD14024
Title: UltraCell - Advanced Cellulose Insulation
Investigators: Thompson, Daniel H
Small Business: UltraCell Insulation, LLC
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Project Period: May 1, 2014 through April 30, 2015
Project Amount: $100,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2014) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Innovation in Manufacturing , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)
The purpose of this research was to demonstrate the commercial viability of UltraCell Insulation (UltraCell), while improving the company's scientific understanding of how to produce at commercial scale. To evaluate commercial viability, UltraCell produced pilot scale volumes using full-scale production equipment at three commercial manufacturing facilities. We tested the product against regulatory requirements and provided samples to professional installers for evaluation in real-world applications. In parallel, the company performed controlled trials to evaluate the impact of various production process parameters on resulting product characteristics, with a goal of better understanding process capabilities and how best to optimize full-scale production.
The following tasks were accomplished:
- Determined materials, equipment, and processing arrangements with all concerned.
- Conducted wet process experiments and production at a paper pulping factory.
- Conducted dry process experiments and production at two cellulose insulation factories.
- Obtained factory and regulatory testing.
- Obtained evaluation and feedback from installers.
- Developed support for commercialization from strategic partners.
- Pilot volumes of product were manufactured meeting and exceeding all regulatory requirements.
- Professional installers evaluated UltraCell insulation and found it superior to traditional cellulose insulation.
- A quantitative assessment of the impact of various process parameters was developed, providing findings that will allow UltraCell to further tune and optimize full-scale production.
- Exciting new product uses were discovered by a field installer who successfully used UltraCell in a spray application by merely injecting water. This discovery points to exciting new markets without fundamentally altering the physical characteristics of the product.
- UltraCell discovered important new information about how to proceed with designing and financing an optimal flagship production facility or facilities.
- A possible new source of feedstock was discovered. Potential strategic partners have offered to UltraCell low- or no-cost paper rejects that they now are paying to dispose of in landfills. More research and development is needed to finalize this approach, but this points to a real win-win solution for UltraCell, the paper company partners, and the Earth.
UltraCell's production process is viable at commercial scale and can meaningfully penetrate commercial insulation markets, improving energy efficiency nationally.
- Improved insulation of our nation's building infrastructure.
- A reduction in the energy required to produce insulation.
- The direct sequestration of carbon in walls and attics (in the form of cellulose insulation).
Supplemental Keywords:green manufacturing, cellulose insulation, pollutants, formaldehyde, volatile organic compound, VOC
- Boston Globe – Front page article of the Business Section, August 11, 2014: http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2014/08/10/newton-startup-ultracell-using-cardboard-boxes-create-insulation-for-homes/UX1tjUrUPYAHdD2tXsA2mO/story.html?s_campaign=8315 Exit
- WSJ MarketWatch Radio Interview, August 14, 2014: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/cardboard-really-can-keep-you-warm-2014-08-14-510700 Exit
- Startup Directory – Featured startup for investor community, October 1, 2014: http://ultracellinsulation.com/ultracell-featured-as-startup-to-watch-by-startup-scout/ Exit