Plant-based insulation

A spin-out from the University of Michigan has been named as the winner of the $200,000 MIT Clean Energy Prize.


A spin-out from the University of Michigan has been named as the winner of the $200,000 MIT Clean Energy Prize, a national student competition founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the US Department of Energy and Nstar.


Husk Insulation’s process converts plant-based agricultural waste into thin, high-grade insulation that delivers up to 10 times the effectiveness of conventional, petroleum-based insulation.


While the insulation has widespread application, the team from the University of Michigan will initially target the refrigeration industry, because of the product’s potential to improve refrigerator efficiency by up to 50 per cent.


‘Our mission is to increase energy efficiency through high-performance insulation.


‘Winning this prize enables us to more effectively promote our product to manufacturers so they can design more efficient refrigerators, which can reduce electricity use and carbon emissions,’ said Ian Dailey, president of Husk Insulation.


With roughly 11 million refrigerators sold each year in the US, the potential energy savings are significant.


But the team also plans to ultimately promote the husk insulation to the housing and transportation markets.


‘In most homes, the refrigerator is the second-largest electricity-consuming appliance, after the air-conditioner.


‘We are thrilled the winner of this competition may have a hand in the development of more efficient models for our customers,’ said Tom May, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Nstar, a Massachusetts-based electric and gas utility company.


For additional information on the MIT Clean Energy Prize, please visit www.mitcep.org.