Gramitherm is currently the only company - worldwide - to manufacture thermal insulation panels using prairie grass. This involves a patented Swiss technology that was launched in 2006 and that I took over in 2014. Gramitherm has excellent performance standards, one of which is to have a negative carbon balance!
Price-wise we are already at the same level as wood panels, and currently 15 to 20% more expensive than mineral wool. But we provide better efficiency in wet areas and greater stability over time.
How is Gramitherm made?
First of all, we should specify that we only use grass that doesn’t have any other commercial uses. We don’t compete with grass that is used for animal feed. As such we are clearly well-positioned in the green economy, since using grass we create value from something that would otherwise be wasted. For example, we cut and use grass from airports in the Netherlands and other countries.
Our production process is "smart". When we cut the grass we remove the fibers, which we use, from the liquids. These liquids, the "grass juice", is used as a supplementary fuel in anaerobic digestion. The biogas produced from the process is then recovered and supplies all the energy we need to dry and treat the fiber before it is "topped" and paneled. The low embodied energy produced during the production process combined with the significant uptake of CO2 by the grass as it grows makes Gramitherm carbon-negative over its life cycle: 1kg of Gramitherm put on the market absorbs the equivalent of 1,405 kg of CO2 (study done by the University of Zurich / 2015).
Are you going to bring insulation panels to Vivatech?
Yes ! We will bring standard 60X120 cm panels that visitors will be able to touch and smell, because they smell like the grass in our meadows!
We will also show photos explaining the production process and examples of work that we’ve done.
What do you expect to get from from participating in in Viva Technology?
Our current goal is to give Gramitherm a leg up in its industrialization and commercialization phases. The product is available on the market in France, Switzerland and Benelux. Now we are looking to give Gramitherm real commercial clout by relying on strong industrial and distribution partnerships.
It makes sense for us to be on the ENGIE booth: ENGIE shows that it is committed to working on energy efficiency and to reorienting itself towards sustainability, so we have a good "fit" on these topics. Participating in Vivatech with ENGIE confirms our position as innovators and also gives us the opportunity to meet BUs with whom to find synergies to help us accelerate our project.
ENGIE is highly knowledgeable about end users, and since you make proposals to improve energy efficiency, Gramitherm could fit in well with other ENGIE offers and products. We’ve been in contact with your BU Services for a short while on this very subject.
A slogan ?
"Grass is green": it’s both about our favorite material and our desire to be good for the planet. We also refer to our circular and durable production circuits in our marketing.
And for you, the future will be...?
For us the future will obviously be green!
We are also members of the "Solar Impulse" Foundation sponsored by Bertrand Piccard whose motto is "The future is clean". One real issue that is coming up in Europe is waste recovery. And the question arises of why we should continue to manufacture mineral wool and synthetic foams that consume a lot of energy while we have tons of biomass that can be transformed for positive-impact products!
As Bertrand Piccard said during his world tour: "80% of our CO2 reduction targets are already achievable". The technologies exist; the real challenge is getting them recognized and accepted by shifting things within the building market. Explaining the environmental impacts of his choices and showing that there are valid solutions is our mission at Gramitherm.
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