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Technology Transfer

Gas Filled Panels

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) Technology Transfer Department licenses a wide range of cutting-edge technologies to companies that have the financial, R&D, manufacturing, marketing, and managerial capabilities to successfully commercialize Lab inventions. It develops and manages an array of partnerships with the private sector.

Cellular structure of the gas-filled panel is called it's baffle

Figure 1. The cellular structure of the gas-filled panel is called its baffle.

Gas-filled panels (GFPs) have a great deal of potential for use in building materials, appliances, vehicles, and insulation applications, where insulation is needed. GFPs are an innovative approach to ambient-temperature thermal insulation. They consist of infrared- reflecting (low-emissivity), multilayer baffles enveloped by a sealed barrier and filled with a low-conductivity gas or air (at atmospheric pressure). More descriptive information on the panels can be found at http://gfp.lbl.gov/.

Licensed uses include building insulation and insulated shipping containers. A potential application for gas-filled panels could be insulation for refrigeration equipment. Energy use of domestic refrigerators and freezers is directly influenced by the overall thermal performance of the cabinet and the doors.

An assembled GFP from the side, and in profile

Figure 2. An assembled GFP from the side, and in profile

Appliance insulation

Berkeley Lab researchers, in conjunction with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, performed experiments using prototype refrigerator doors and cabinets equipped with GFPs. Their use in door panels increased the overall energy efficiency of the refrigerator by 6.5%. Projected savings could reach as high as 25% when GFP insulation is used throughout the entire refrigeration cabinet as well as in the door panels.

Building insulation

Insulation materials are critical in buildings designed for low energy use and good thermal comfort. Fi-Foil Inc. has licensed GFPs for building construction. Increasing the overall level of thermal resistance, or R-value, of insulation is an effective strategy to lower heating. GFPs can be a boon to buildings because their insulating possibilities permit much higher R-values; the reflective nature of their outer skin and the air or gas barrier provides as much as if not more insulation than commonplace batt insulation.

GFP insulating a car roof GFPs insulating a refrigerator door (cut-away)

Figure 3. GFPs insulating a car (above) and a refrigerator door (cut-away)

The use of GFP insulation could contribute to lower building costs, because ceilings are often constructed with larger framing timbers (2 x 6s or 2 x 12s) to allow for maximum insulation. The GFP insulation, while providing equal or greater R-values, can easily fit into conventional 2 x 4 construction. An additional benefit is the flexibility of the panels, which can be manufactured in a variety of shapes to accommodate cavities in buildings walls, and roofs.

Vehicle insulation

Thermal insulation will be increasingly important in the future development of cars because significant improvements in gas mileage can be achieved by downsizing automobile heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment.

Here again, GFPs can contribute their light weight, and superior insulating qualities. A story about research using GFP insulation in cars is available here.

Packaging

GFPs are already used in packaging and shipping containers. Not only do they help eliminate some less-desirable packaging materials (Styrofoam "peanuts," for example), but they are also a better insulating material, especially for perishable goods. One technology using GFPs is Airliner®, developed by CargoTech.

— Ted Gartner

For more information, contact:

  • Technology Transfer Department
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • MS 90-1070
  • Berkeley, CA 94720
  • (510) 486-6467; Fax: (510) 486-6457

More information about Gas Filled Panels.

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