C: Integrative components

C05 – Material systems for adaptive surface and structural elements

Project C05 focuses on adaptive thermal insulation to indicate opportunities and risks for use in lightweight buildings.

In building design, properties like sound insulation, moisture protection and heat insulation have remained permanent und static so far. In terms of adaptive buildings, this procedure is changing: Building components and their properties remain adaptable throughout their entire lifetime.  In order to provide the required building physics properties in appropriate dimensions, the symbiotic material behaviour needs to be taken into account.

Therefore, project C05 focuses on adaptive thermal insulation to indicate opportunities and risks for use in lightweight buildings.

The following scientific questions arise:

  • Which options are available for switchable heat insulation in adaptive buildings?
  • Which open-porous materials should be used for these insulation systems and the building skin?
  • How can the selected material systems be modelled, virtually evaluated and assessed by involving different conditions?
  • Can the developed material systems be described with existing characteristic values, or are there new characteristic values necessary?

Novel investigations of open-porous materials show the potentials of switchable heat insulation. The active control of the airflow or a pressure change within the skin construction can be particularly useful for lightweight constructions. This approach allows to quickly change the outside surface temperature and the thermal conductivity of the skin, if required.

 (c) IABP
Left: Layered construction of the flowable textile construction for solar energy use. Right: Open-pored, structured metal foams

As part of project C05 suitable open-porous insulating materials as well as skin materials are developed and evaluated. Subsequently, a surface element will be developed, considering the thermal, hygric, acoustic and, if necessary, visual functions. The aim is to gain comprehensive knowledge on the building-physics properties of newly developed adaptive surface elements.

Besides, the project examines the hygrothermal and acoustic behaviour of auxetic materials for connections between the developed adaptive surface elements. In the next step, the selected material systems will be modelled, virtually evaluated and assessed for different indoor and outdoor conditions. 

 (c) IABP
Moisture transport processes in a lattice wall (left), adjustment range of the sd value of the moisture-adaptive vapour barrier (centre) and moisture transport in winter and summer when using the moisture-adaptive vapour barrier (right)

Afterwards, physical models and individual materials as well as their interactions will be examined whether these systems can be described reliably enough with current characteristic material values, or whether new values are needed.

Knowledge gained in project CO5 will be made available to other projects, especially to project DO2 for an integrated life cycle assessment.

 (c) Sumee Park, Fraunhofer IBP
Schematic diagram of active control of air flow in open-pored insulating materials; (a): static situation (insulation); (b): active control of flow in open-pored materials; (c): with switchable breathability of the outer skin; (d): negative pressure in the construction (increase of heat transfer); (e): positive pressure in the construction (reduction of heat transfer)

Principal Investigators

  • Prof. Dr.-Ing. Philip Leistner, Institute for Acoustics and Building Physics 
  • Dr.-Ing. Sumee Park, Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP


Nadine  Harder

Nadine Harder

Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin

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