Quality Assessment

Research project

More than just insulation – Additional benefits of insulation materials made from renewable raw resources

Insulation materials made from renewable raw materials help to relieve pressure on the environment by conserving resources and also make a significant contribution towards a reduction in CO2 emissions. Under the leadership of the Fraunhofer WKI, a consortium of twelve research institutes is conducting interdisciplinary research into holistic solutions in order to significantly increase the application of insulation materials made from renewable raw materials (German: nachwachsende Rohstoffe, “NawaRo”). 

© Fraunhofer WKI | Manuela Lingnau
Commercially-available wood-fiber insulation boards, viewed from the narrow edge, with differing tongue and groove profiles.
© Fraunhofer WKI | Manuela Lingnau
Wood-fiber insulation material as mat (below); Loose cellulose material for blown-in cavity wall insulation (above left); Loose wood-fiber material for blown-in cavity wall insulation (above right)
© Fraunhofer WKI | Manuela Lingnau
Testing rig for the determination of a building product’s propensity to continuous smoldering in accordance with DIN EN 16733

In order to make the applicability easier for manufacturers, planners and processors of these insulation materials, the researchers involved in the project determine the material parameters which, for example, can reduce complex component testing in sound insulation and fire protection. Furthermore, the participants want to remove real application constraints. This applies, for example, to standards and other building regulations which came into being in times in which insulation materials made from renewable raw materials barely existed. A further objective is therefore the development of measurement procedures which take better account of the specific properties of insulation materials made from renewable raw materials. In order to demonstrate the additional benefits of the insulation materials, the project participants also carry out sustainability evaluation.

The six working areas of the project, “Fire protection and glimmer behavior”, “Sound insulation”, “Thermal insulation”, “Sustainability evaluations”, “Moisture protection” and “Emissions”, lead initially to a holistic overview of the subject. In the working area of “Fire protection”, the researchers establish the parameters for the calculation of the fire resistance duration in constructions with insulation materials made from renewable raw materials (“NawaRo”), a "B1 equivalent" for thermal insulation composite systems as well as a fire protection guideline for building classes 4 and 5. As an independent material property of these insulation materials, the glimmer behavior is also investigated. In order to assess and, if necessary, mathematically determine the acoustic behavior of components, the scientists in the working area “Sound insulation” compile the appropriate primary data and parameters. In the working area of “Thermal insulation”, the project partners investigate the moisture-dependent thermal conductivity and verify possibilities for reducing this. Evaluations of sustainability provide a quantifiable representation of the positive additional benefits of the insulation materials. In the working area of “Moisture protection”, the researchers develop methods for the material and application-oriented investigation of mold resistance. The project partners in the working area “Emissions” demonstrate the risks associated with the emission of health-impairing or olfactorily-relevant substances and show how these can be minimized if necessary. Furthermore, they also examine the extent to which insulation materials made from renewable raw materials can contribute to a reduction of the pollutant concentration in room air.

Within the Fraunhofer WKI, four departments are participating in the project:

Quality Assessment

  • Project coordination

Technology for Wood and Natural Fiber-Based Materials

  • Management of the working area “Thermal insulation”
  • Research work in the working area “Moisture protection”

Material Analysis and Indoor Chemistry

  • Management of the working area “Emissions”

Center for Light and Environmentally-Friendly Structures

Project consortium

  • Fraunhofer WKI
  • Institut für Holztechnologie Dresden gGmbh
  • Rosenheim University of Applied Sciences (Faculty of Applied Natural Sciences and Humanities)
  • The Technische Universität Braunschweig (Institute of Building Materials, Concrete Construction and Fire Protection)
  • Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences
  • The German National Metrology Institute PTB
  • The Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy
  • Papiertechnische Stiftung
  • The Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute (Thünen Institute of Wood Research)
  • The University of Stuttgart (Chair of Building Physics, Department of Life Cycle Assessment)
  • The Technische Universität Dresden
  • The National Material Testing Office North Rhine-Westphalia (MPA NRW)

Within the framework of the project, the research institutes work together with numerous reputable companies and associations.


The fundamental conclusion reached by the researchers is that natural insulation materials have assured properties and that constructions can be reliably calculated and used in almost all areas of application. Using natural materials, it is possible to build calculably durable and safe buildings. Standards and building regulations can now be adapted and the green light can be given for more NawaRo insulation materials in building construction. 


Funding Body: Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft (German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, BMEL)

Project organization: Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e. V.  (German Agency for Renewable Resources, FNR)

FNR Funding reference: 22011615

Project duration: 1.12.2016 to 7.5.2020

Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e. V. (Agency for Renewable Resources)