is latest green building material
revolutionary new building product using wool from British
sheep has been developed through collaboration between
textile engineers at the University of Leeds and a Cumbrian
the product through from concept to production: Dr Stephen
Russell (foreground) and his team, lecturer Dave Brooks
(left) and research technician Manoj Rathod.
product, Thermafleece, is a green alternative
to traditional building insulation and was created by
textile researcher Dr Stephen Russell and his team for
sheep farmer Christine Armstrong and her company, Second
Nature UK Ltd.
have unique pilot-scale facilities here at the University
to develop new non-woven fibrous products, and as a result
we have a very successful research team working closely
with industry," said Dr Russell. "Its
fascinating to work through from the initial idea, to
developing and testing the product in its prototype stage,
to seeing the finished product through large-scale production."
many insulation materials, Thermafleece is lightweight,
easy to handle, causes no irritation to the skin, eyes
or respiratory tract, helps control condensation by absorbing
and releasing moisture, and has excellent thermal properties.
had to ensure the product met all the British standards,"
explained research technician Manoj Rathod. "It also
had to retain its thermal insulation properties at the
correct thickness for use by the building industry. We
helped Second Nature approach potential partners to carry
out the production, and then were on hand to iron out
any technical hitches for the companies carrying out the
was emphasis from the beginning on minimising environmental
impact: wool is a renewable resource, the insulation is
totally recyclable, and the products used to enhance its
qualities are all totally natural. Further issues that
had to be tackled were flammability and resistance to
Russell said: "We were asked to use Herdwick and
Swaledale fleeces which generally yield coarse, pigmented
fibres not in high demand by the wool industry. We had
no idea at the time that wed be doing this against
an impending decimation of these flocks from foot and
mouth disease. Its good to have been a part of a
Cumbrian success story, during a time which has been so
difficult for the farming community."
details on partnerships between University and industry,
see the feature on the third arm strategy.