Galea Curmi Engineering is currently participating in an R&D programme to develop a low U-Value hollow concrete block (HCB) after obtaining funding for the Malta Council for Science and Technology ( MCST ). The partners in this project are RA&Sons Manufacturing Ltd and The Institute for Sustainable Energy within the University of Malta.
The objective for this project is to develop a building element which has a higher resistance to the transfer of heat over traditional building materials. Specifically, the building element under the spotlight for this project is a hollow concrete block (HCB) which is used extensively in the construction industry in Malta. The HCB available on the local market is a load bearing element made up of a mixture of aggregate hard stone and cement bound together with water. The aim of the project is to develop an HCB which has the same dimensional as well as load bearing characteristics as the traditional HCB but with an improved U-value. The need for such improvement in the insulation characteristics of the traditional HCB becomes more evident when one compares the-U value of this extensively used building element to other materials used in Malta as well as in other EU countries.
Galea Curmi Engineering, besides coordinating the project, shall also be carrying out tests related to the thermal performance of the prototype HCB by using the infrared method. Validating the measurements using the infrared method would be beneficial for this project since the relevant ISO standard is still in draft form. Feedback from such experiments will not only benefit the project but could also result in scientific publications that will definitely be useful to the scientific community.
In all aspects of building design one should strive for the lowest U-values possible since the lower the U-value, the less energy (electrical or fuel) is required to maintain the temperature in the building at comfortable levels. Low U-values thereby reduce heating and cooling bills, improve comfort inside the building and reduce the building’s carbon footprint. Over and above the HCB itself, this project also aims to develop thermal rendering products which can be applied over the thermal HCB to further improve the U-value.