Faster renovation with lightweight façade system

Faster renovation with lightweight façade system

VUB researcher tests new type of façade panel containing less cement

Like other industries, the construction sector is looking for ways to reduce CO2 emissions. Thermal insulation can improve the energy performance of buildings and drastically reduce energy consumption. For his doctoral research under the supervision of Prof. Tine Tysmans and dr Olivier Remy, dr Matthias De Munck of the VUB’s Mechanics of Materials and Constructions research group has investigated the use of a new type of lightweight façade panel that contains a thick layer of insulation. Instead of traditional steel-reinforced concrete, the façade panels are made of much lighter textile-reinforced concrete (TRC). This type of panel makes it possible to renovate and insulate a house in just a few days.

Lighter insulation panels are interesting in terms of transport and installation. Because of the lower weight, several panels can be transported at once and they can be installed using smaller cranes or machinery. These lightweight elements also use less cement, which is to be welcomed because cement is responsible for the largest proportion of CO2 emissions in the construction industry.

TRC is cement-bound concrete reinforced with a textile made of glass fibres. The concept of TRC goes back a while, but this is the first time that the environmental impact of TRC and its use in insulating facade panels has been investigated. De Munck simulated weather conditions such as wind, rain, frost, thaw and different temperatures and humidity for his research in a climate chamber. De Munck describes the outcome of his research as follows: "The only damage phenomenon we were able to identify was the occurrence of small microcracks in the cement composites. But the impact on the structural capacity was small, so we can guarantee a safe design throughout its lifetime."

Innovation for the construction industry

The research was carried out in collaboration with CRH Structural Concrete Belgium nv. They will now bring the insulating façade element onto the market. It will be usable for both new construction projects and renovations. The panels make home renovation and insulation possible in just a few days. In the future, textile reinforcement may even replace steel reinforcement completely in certain applications.


Prof. Tine Tysmans 

0498 613 943


Matthias De Munck

0474 60 40 83

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