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Bayer MaterialScience materials and technologies showcased in Penn State University's zero energy, zero emissions, solar-powered home



By Tim Wright



Published October 20, 2009
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From the floor, to the roof, and nearly everywhere in between, raw materials and technologies from Bayer MaterialScience LLC are playing an important role in Penn State University's entry into this year's U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) Solar Decathlon.

The Solar Decathlon is a biannual international competition sponsored by the DoE to inspire university students and faculty to design, build and operate an entirely solar-powered house. Twenty teams from around the globe are participating in this most recent competition. Penn State's eco-friendly home is on display during the competition through Oct. 18 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Bayer's participation in the effort to design and build the 800-square-foot house, dubbed Natural Fusion, is a logical extension of Bayer's commitment to eco-friendly materials and sustainable construction. The zero-energy home features 11 Bayer MaterialScience materials and technologies.

"The Solar Decathlon gives us an excellent opportunity to demonstrate how our materials can be successfully used in the construction of sustainable, solar homes, and at an affordable price," said Mark Witman, Ph.D, project lead for the Solar Decathlon project within Bayer MaterialScience LLC, and head, New Business, Industry Innovations-Construction in the U.S.

The Natural Fusion home began with the Penn State team's concept of building an energy-efficient, market viable home with affordable, available and environmentally friendly materials and technology. This mindset was applied from the outset and encompassed every phase of the project - from design to construction.

The Bayer USA Foundation donated $10,000 while Bayer MaterialScience LLC made in-kind donations of raw materials to support the project. Bayer MaterialScience experts also provided guidance throughout the project including initial design, prototyping, testing and construction.

"We're trying to show people this isn't just something cool you see in a magazine. It's something you can walk through and say 'Wow, I could live here,'" said Kyle Macht, team leader, Penn State University Natural Fusion, Solar Decathlon project. "We have a great collaboration with Bayer MaterialScience LLC that has been instrumental in fulfilling our vision for the Natural Fusion home."

The energy-efficient home - which achieves net zero energy efficiency based on tests during the competition - capitalizes on and incorporates nearly a dozen energy-conserving advantages of Bayer MaterialScience materials including:

• BaySystems spray polyurethane foam to encapsulate the home and minimize air infiltration through floor insulation, perimeter wall insulation and roof insulation (R-50 rating for roof). Spray polyurethane foam also adds structural strength, reducing the amount of lumber needed for the home.

• Aluminum-faced, polyiso insulation board for the exterior that reduces thermal bridging.

• Formaldehyde-free, p-MDI binders for use in bonding Oriented Strand Board (OSB) and particle board utilizing renewable bio-mass and wood scrap; the OSB is used in the floor and roof framing to form a protective outer skin and provide longitudinal stiffness and strength significantly higher than laminated pressed board.

• Low-VOC, ultraviolet-cured wood coatings used in the floor that use less energy to cure than traditional materials.

• Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) film for thermal ballast water bladders that are placed in the floors to create thermal mass and can be heated in the winter.

• TPU film used for powered solar shade photovoltaic panels.

• Makrolon polycarbonate for highly energy efficient light emitting diode (LED) optics and housings for interior lighting and luminaires.

• Soy-based polyurethane foam sprayed into aluminum window lineals to reduce heat transfer and increase energy-efficiency.

• Polyaspartic cool roof coatings that are highly reflective, durable and waterproof.

• Low VOC polyurethane adhesives for bonding the recycled, barnwood floor.

• Polyurethane-based sealant for openings in the building envelope such as windows, doors and skylights (fenestration).

"With today's momentum to design and manufacture with sustainable, green building principles, it's inspiring to see such skill and promise come from these university students," said Bob Kumpf, chief administrative officer, Bayer Material Science LLC. "This was a hands-on, team learning effort by the Natural Fusion team. The experience they gained, including in-depth knowledge of the essential materials, the energy-efficient systems, and the interrelationship among them, will be invaluable to these students as they begin their professional lives."

About Bayer MaterialScience:

Bayer MaterialScience LLC is one of the leading producers of polymers and high-performance plastics in North America and is part of the global Bayer MaterialScience business with nearly 15,100 employees at 30 sites around the world and 2008 sales of 9.7 billion euros. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction, medical, and sports and leisure industries.

Source: Bayer MaterialScience



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