Evaluation of natural wool as an alternative insulation to synthetic solutions

Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of natural wool in the UK is wasted annually. Generally, farmers in the UK currently burn wool to dispose of it. The current pricing of wool is as low as 20-30 pence/kg, which rarely even covers the cost of shearing for the farmers.

Globally, buildings typically rely on spray foam, glass wool or RockWool insulations, all chemical products which enhance energy efficiency and thermal performance of a building. However, these current solutions are still fossil fuel based and not climate friendly. 

The AMRL are currently undertaking research which will investigate the potential of natural wool (whether virgin or recycled) as an insulation alternative. This project investigates the feasibility of moving away from synthetic insulations using bio-based insulation alternatives.

There are various objectives and outcomes we aim to achieve, these include:

  • Understanding the process for insulating a building with natural wool, with focus on replacement strategies that account also for reuse, recycling and remanufacture of wool-based garments.
  • Assess the advantages of using natural wool, virgin and/or recycled, as insulation, and whether there are any drawbacks.
  • Assess and benchmark the thermal response of synthetic and natural insulation materials, e.g. define their thermal conductivity/resistance, heat storage capacity, thermal diffusivity and efficiency, permeability to humidity and water etc.