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Life Insu-Shell wins best of the best Life environments award

News International-French

31 May 2012

The Best of the Best Life Environments Award of EU commission was awarded to INSU-SHELL this month.

Prof. Gries, head of the Institut für Textiltechnik (ITA) of RWTH Aachen University, accepted the award as the official representative of the entire project and coordinator for the project consortium. Over six phases the development of the façade elements was advanced by competent partners such as ITA, Institute of Concrete Structures (IMB) of RWTH Aachen University, the companies DuraPact (Aachen), Saint Gobain Technical Fabrics (Chambery, France) and Ingenieursgesellschaft Gimpel GmbH (Aachen).


> 50 CO2-savings compared to conventional building technique

The EU-co-funded project LIFE INSU-SHELL contributes to sustainability in construction by providing an environmentally friendly façade solution made of Textile Reinforced Concrete (TRC). The innovative sandwich elements reduce the use of concrete by 70 – 80 %, thus saving up to 50 % of CO2-emmissions during its life cycle. As about 5 % of the yearly CO2-emmissions are caused by the cement industry the INSU-SHELL projects helps to reach climate goals set in the Kyoto protocol.


Advantages in all parts – Textile Reinforced Concrete within INSU-SHELL

Textile Reinforced Concrete (TRC) offers several advantages in comparison to conventional building techniques. The lack of corrosion of the reinforced textile allows the production of thin elements with a concrete overlapping of only 2 mm (6 cm are necessary for ferro-concrete). The savings in concrete material (up to 80 %) contribute to a light weight and savings of energy and CO2 during production, transport, mounting and use. Furthermore the composite material offers flexibility in design for filigree building elements. Typical applications of TRC are façade systems, integrated formwork, bridges and roofing elements as well as the use as strengthening material for the retrofitting of existing buildings.


TRC as a life saver

In the event of an earthquake Textile Reinforced Concrete can even save lives: building made of TRC do not collapse suddenly, but deform under compressive and bending stresses. The resulting fine cracks guarantee a ductile and robust structural behavior. This gives inhabitants enough time to evacuate the building. In addition, the reduced amount of concrete overlapping leads to only small fragments falling down, which do not tend to do damage.


Why TRC is now so important?

The world population is growing explosively, the construction industry is booming. Concrete is the most widely used construction material. In Germany, alone the concrete industry growth reached 10 % p. a. in 2012, according to Cemex AG Germany - just like in 2011 (source: Cemex Deutschland AG,

For us - in addition to satisfying the demand for more housing - ensuring the survival of our environment, the use of new materials such as Textile Reinforced Concrete is essential‘, says Prof. Josef Hegger, head of Institute of Massivbau (IMB) of RWTH Aachen University and speaker of Sonderforschungsbereich (SFB) TRC from 1999 - 2011.


What is the secret of INSU-SHELL?

The secret lies in the sandwich construction of the facade elements. They are made of Textile Reinforced Concrete and polyurethane foam insulation to form a complete exterior wall with only 18 cm wall thickness. This is about one third of a wall with comparable properties.

In 2009, the facade elements were mounted as the envelope of the ITA INNOTEX building - the world's first use of TRC sandwich walls in an industrial scale. ITA project manager Silke Tomoscheit says: 'At last, the incredible benefits that Textile Reinforced Concrete offers are appreciated. We have worked hard to reach this goal'.


Award ceremony

The EU Commission represented by all EU member states, awards once a year the Best LIFE Environment Project in Brussels, Belgium.

Prof. Gries, project coordinator of INSU-SHELL, is convinced: ‘Through this project we were able to demonstrate the feasibility and advantages of the TRC. So we have created confidence for this environmentally friendly material, then, only seeing is believing'. This has given the implementation of Textile Reinforced Concrete a significant boost.’


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