Your next refrigerator might be sheathed in renewable rice, if a team of students from the University of Michigan have anything to do with it. With just 12.5mm (half inch of rice husk ash they reckon they can achieve the equivalent of over 100mm (4 inches) of conventional petroleum-based insulation.
With claims that the 11 million fridges sold annually in the US could be made 50% more efficient, the judges of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Clean Energy Prize obviously saw the potential in such technology. Such that they awarded the students first prize, which came with a cheque for $200,000 USD. That will now no doubt help them as they launch a start-up company, Husk Insulation, to commercialise their product. The students figure it will take them about 18 months to bring the rice husk insulation to the fridge market. For which they calculate $425,000 USD (PDF) will be required. But that may not present too much of a hurdle as they are on a winning streak of grant award winning, with another couple of awards already under their belt.
Once they’ve captured the refrigeration industry, the students have their sights set on the housing and transportation markets.
And we know that this is not pie-in-the-sky research, because last year we reported on Maerogel, whereby a student at the Technical University of Malaysia had announced the discovery of a cheap process for turning waste rice husks into an equivalent of that miracle material: Aerogel. So impressive was her research that the Malaysian government anted up with US$62.5 million in funding for Halimaton Hamdan to bring her particular rice husk insulation to the masses. We wish the Michigan Uni students similar success.
Via ::Business Wire
Photo: Business Wire