In late September, six Ukrainian companies received from the EBRD and the EU voucher for climate innovations. Projects promoting reduction of greenhouse gas releases and energy consumption throughout the country could rely on the financing. The total amount of the grant was 160,000 EUR, and by the end of 2018 organizers plan to allocate vouchers amounting to one million EUR. Funds received in such a manner will help companies to certify products and to make their market launch, or to make further developments of the technology. Editorial Office of Innovation House talked to three winning projects that deal with engineering solutions development and got wind of the uniqueness of their technologies.
What is this grant for: creation of 100% environmentally friendly material for thermal insulation and construction of houses based on technical hemp, with no cement admixtures and with negative carbon footprint.
Sergiy Kovalenkov, founder of Hempire UA, started to work in the field of green construction seven years ago. About three years ago, Sergiy set himself the task of 100% green material creation, that contains no elements harmful to humans. The matter is that cement is present to a greater or lesser degree as a binding construction material. Kovalenkov decided not to use cement.
Ukrainian scientists in Kyiv worked on this technology. Material that was finally received not only contains no harmful substances, but also has negative carbon footprint, since when it is getting harder, it absorbs carbon dioxide. Moreover, during the growth process hectare of technical hemp absorbs about 10 tons of carbon dioxide. That, which was previously considered to be residual from the production of fabrics and ropes, is used as a raw material.
“Modern thermal insulation materials are nondurable and not environmentally friendly, their action can be summarized by saying that they are airproof and characteristics parameters are indicated for certain conditions. Temperature and humidity are always unstable in real-life situation. In other words, conditions in which thermal insulations are located, are constantly changing meaning that their behavior in the environment is always changing. Thermal insulations, made of hemp, work in other way – they do not hold air, but accumulate it, and they are not harmful to the body,” – inventor explained. In cold regions material accumulates warm air – and if to turn off the heating, it will give it up for some period of time. In hot places they hold home coolness. House, made of this material, requires no ventilation, and the walls are fireproof.
Strongly alkaline lime is used as the binding material – this is the contrast of conditions in which fungus develops, therefore material is not afraid of it and does not need any isolation against the external environment. Moreover, alkali protects against rodents.
Material used as the thermal insulation for the existing premises – both for walls, floors, ceilings, and during frame construction.
In speaking of time expenditures, construction of house using traditional technologies and using the industrial hemp are almost the same. Project founder says that there is no limitations as to the dimensions of the building, since the frame takes on the role of load-bearing structure. The form is of no importance too – Hempire made thermal insulation of both traditional houses, and premises with dome structure.
Sergiy Kovalenkov says that his material ensures no fewer than 30% savings in heating compared to common construction technologies. It should be noted that the cost of the “wall” may be 10-20% more expensive, but the difference will be paid off for several heating seasons.
According to Kovalenkov, the higher the tariffs for heating rise, the more sales orders he has. Primary audience – people who care about the ecological component of the material. Pivotal market – Ukraine. We have company registered in the USA, projects in France, Sweden and other countries, there are intentions to build house in Japan. Mixture is made straight on the construction site. It takes you 5 minutes to make it. Therefore, it makes no matter for the company where to build houses – the only thing that matters is to have components at hand.
The coldest place, where the house is built from Hempire material, – the north of Poland. Company also rendered assistance in building of house in Sweden. But we may not say that all the heat-saving characteristics of house structure in Sweden were achieved thanks to Ukrainian material only – dome-shaped roof is used there.
Furthermore, it improves energy-saving characteristics. Next year Hempire plans to build a house in Alaska, in Barrow city, having taken the issue of temperature minimum, suitable for technology application, completely off the table.
Caribbean Islands were the warmest place where Hempire built the house. Sergiy said that the thickness and density of the material are slightly different depending on the region. Warm place needs thin walls, cold places – thick ones.
Manufacturing facilities are located near Kyiv. Material itself is created there. The plant is purchased from the partners. To provide building 100 sq.m. in area with heat insulation, we need about 2 hectares of technical hemp, considering that Ukraine is the Europe’s third-biggest country as to the technical hemp growing. Thus, we have no deficiency and no alterations are in view.
What is this grant for: creation of affordable recuperator from cardboard
The cost of common recuperator is about several thousand EUR, this is impracticable amount for average Ukrainian. Nevertheless, in everyday life it performs two key functions as follows:
1. Ensures oxygen delivery. Ukrainians are busy with thermal insulating of their buildings – they install airtight multi-chambered PVC windows, lock facades, seal cracks for the heat not to leak out through them. On the one hand, it they let you to save money. On the other hand – air, which is so required for the vital processes of the body, does not enter apartment. The person either starts suffering from oxygen deficiency, or opens windows to supply some air – and by doing so, releases the heat, which results in temperature loss.
2. Allows you to save money on heating, since about 40% of the heat loss occurs through old ventilation systems. Air incomes through recuperator, but there is no heat loss.
This product developed in Ukraine will cost about 300 EUR. Affordable price has always been key factor, since the company understood that so and in no other way product could be wide-scale. The project is called Cardboard Hole Air Hanging Unit – this is the ventilation unit with heat recuperation, made of corrugated cardboard. Now it is at the development stage, there are ready-made prototypes.
Mykhailo Makhlevych, Chief Commercial Officer and co-founder of “VTS-Complecte”, is the idea owner. The company is specializing in industrial and commercial ventilation. According to Mykhailo, friends and relatives used to to turn to them to make ventilation, but they had no solutions for private consumer. This gave an impulse to create small-capacity air handling unit. “VTS-Complecte” made calculations and decided that average office or home needs 250-300 cubic meters of air.
“We approached the issue from the scratch. We noticed that no one is currently making sheet metal air ducts with thermal insulation. More accessible materials are used, but bodies of air handling units were still made of metal – this is atavism! Cardboard furniture gave rise to the idea of material. Structural properties of cardboard vary greatly depending on the thickness. Moreover, paper has thermal insulation properties. At the same time, corrugated cardboard structure in section, looks like the recuperator structure,” – Mykhailo Makhlevych explained how to choose material.
He was the one, who dealt with development. “Dunapack Tavria” company became the project partner. This is the huge Austrian production, located in Kherson oblast and specializing in corrugated cardboard. They acted both as the advisors and as the manufacturing site for the first prototypes. Upon awarding of grant, company will also work with ARTKB.
Long-term testing and certification of cardboard recuperator are ahead. Certification will be performed in Ukraine. Sooner or later other markets will be tapped – project scalability was one of the conditions for the grant.
What is this grant for: construction technology improvement of houses from reinforced concrete structures.
The company said that this is the optimization of Soviet-era technology for the prefabricated houses construction. Thanks to the constructional changes, we need almost half the metal and concrete to build houses having the same reliability and stability characteristics. There is no need for reinforced concrete facades and dividing walls, reinforced concrete floor slab panels are replaced by hollow slabs. New construction gives more freedom of action as to the zoning, allows to increase the area of translucent structures, as well as to use light facade thermal insulations that cut heat losses.
Next year project will celebrate its 10th anniversary. According to Vladimir Shadrin, CEO of “Engineering Innovation”, during this period great many experts worked at different stages, but Gregory Chervonobaba, chief expert of the company, was the one, who in 2014 formulated the seismic resistance aspect that became of key importance for the project.
“The gist of the matter is in mutual compensation of seismic and gravitational forces of the earth, with no building structure destroying. Our structures are industrially manufactured and are combined into the building frame, rather than into the walls. We conduct welding and concrete works on the site,” – Shadrin explained. According to him, in very simplified form it may be compared to dry stone of Inca walls. Inca used stones of different sizes. They were so tightly fitted to each other, that you can not pass even the blade of a knife between them. Stones remained motionless during weak earthquakes, they were moving during the strong ones, but always returned to their position.
Structure is suitable for the territory with weak seismic activity, Kyiv, for instance, “In cooperation with State Research Institute of Building Constructions we made justification for 4-storey building in 10-points seismicity. There are issues that require in-depth study, but, in our opinion, prospects are good enough,” – Shadrin said.
“Engineering Innovation” is cooperating with companies from several CIS countries, but we have a long way to go till the launch of industrial use of the technology. Company draws attention to it, strives to enter into open and fruitful technology discussion, but the major issue as of today – attraction of financial resources, and to do this we shall prove seismic resistance and energy performance of buildings.
Grant will be directed to prove the declared energy performance of construction technology. For this purpose, third-party contractor (State Research Institute of Building Constructions, in this case) will be involved to make third-party calculations. If the results are positive, the technology will be developed. “In January 2017 we got positive conclusion of preliminary international assessment. Now we receive local patents for the CIS countries, India, China, and Uzbekistan. These are early stages. We need a lot of funds to launch industrial implementations, we plan to attract grants for other programs, namely according to “Horizon 2020” programme, Vladimir Shadrin, said.