Energy innovations are the most efficient action to reduce climate changes. Together with the use of renewables, the energy
innovations can accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to a carbon-free future.
The growing population on Earth demands more energy and we need to rely much more on sun and wind power. However, we need
also a significant breakthrough in technologies that will allow us to find a way to clean energy sources, e.g. zero-carbon fuels. The
European Union has planned to be carbon-free in the middle of the century. What will be required in the coming years is a diverse mix of
energy solutions to support a future of renewable energy generation that meets our needs.
A key solution we need in the transition to clean energy are improved energy storage systems. Lithium-ion batteries, found in mobile
phones, electric cars, computers are an example of a growing storage solution; however, they are suitable for short-term storage. Thus,
the innovative strive is to find out reliable and widely useable ways to store renewable energy sources for days, months or years. The
research should consider also the seasonal changes, e.g. short winter days, long periods of heat or cold for weeks or months.
Energy consumption in residential buildings is an energy-demanding sector that needs to be managed properly. Recent studies have
reported that 40% of the energy generated in the EU is consumed in buildings. A sustainable and innovative solution would be
thermal-powered storage technology as a flexible and reliable way to store heat by means of bio-based phase change materials
(BPCM) encapsulated into lignocellulose matrix. In the recent years, two research groups at Karadeniz Technical University (Turkey)
and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences have independently studied some BPCM incorporated in lignocellilose matrix to be
used as insulation in buildings. Eutectic mixtures of plant oils and specific fatty acids serve well when impregnated in solid wood or in
fibers, charcoal, delignified wood. Within the ERA-Net Call we unite our efforts with these of experts in material characterisation
(CNR-IBE, Italy) and building constructions (Salzburg University of Applied Sciences) to upscale our laboratory results to practical
models for verification of the idea in building environment.
The project objective is to develop and study functional incorporation of bio-molecules into wood fibers, charcoal, veneer and solid
wood aiming at increasing heat storage and conduction while retaining strength, thermal insulation properties and improving biological
durability of the initial material. Specific aim of the project is to use wood micro/macro structure (i.e. wood cell wall and lumen) as
low-cost porous structures (storage cell) for encapsulation of BPCM for use in green building products for energy saving.
The primary societal contribution of the project consists of the intent to save energy by introducing the new bio-based materials for
building purposes. Directives 2012/27/EU, 2018/844/EU and particularly 2010/31/EU on the Energy Performance of Buildings has
established a framework of long-term activities that are the basis of modern building. Two principles should be decisive for the future
development of the building sector namely, the principle of nearly zero-energy buildings (art. 9 & art. 2.2) and the principle of cost
optimality (art. 5 & art. 2.14 and the annex I).
The project contributes secondarily to better valorisation of bio-materials from renewable sources. Wood fibers, charcoal, veneer,
solid wood and BPCM are widely used but need to be wrapped-up in the socio-economic “tool-box” focusing on the main prerequisites
for market introduction of our approach (wood cells as storage bodies for BPCM). This involves a product response to genuine
user-needs and crucial component criteria (i.e. resources, knowledge, and partners) for diffusion of the results.
In a global sense, the societal value of project is traced to Paris Agreement (2016) which is built upon a Convention that brought all
nations to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects. The project is important at national level since
the partner countries are densely forested countries and forest-based industries play a key role in the circular bio-economy aiming at
diminishing the human influence on the climate. Building insulation companies that use bio-fibers are interested in the project results.
The complex approach of the project (improved fiber durability and thermal characteristics) offers a better product and thus, would be of
interest for implementation in practice.
The project objectives are consistent with ERA-Net Smart Energy Systems Joint Call 2019 on Energy Storage solutions (MICall19) for
ecologically, economically and socially sustainable development and contribute to achieving the global sustainable development goals.