Researchers from Stockholm University managed to develop a super-insulating and fire retardant foam for house insulation by freezing together graphene oxide, cellulose nanofibers and clay nanorods.
The foam is highly porous and boasts lower thermal conductivity than traditional insulators like polystyrene and polyurethane. It is mechanically stiff, able to sustain great loads and also does not need to be laced with organic fire retardants (it is inherently fire retardant). The researchers believe this foam could even be fitted onto older buildings without tampering with their appearance.
This new foam is unique in that it is light - almost like an aerogel - but is also strong and has low thermal conductivity. The fact that it does not require additional fire retardant materials is also an advantage as these materials are often hazardous.
Researchers say this foam can greatly enhance the energy efficiency of homes, but similar materials may also be useful for aircraft, boats and trains. The costs, as per the researchers, should not be high and the only remaining obstacle to pass is achieving mass production ability.