The research, Structural Insulated Wall Panels and Slabs Strengthened by Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymer, received several global recognitions, including KIWIE 2014 Bronze Prize from South Korea, FIRI Diploma from Iran’s The 1st Institute Inventors and Researcher, Iran’s Omran Yekom Construction Development Institute award, and Diploma from Inventionspot, Saudi Arabia.

“Most housing construction projects in Thailand still rely on the traditional system of using reinforced concrete, bricks, and mortar. This system is time-consuming, due to limitations of the materials. For example, concrete requires a waiting period of about 28 days. Moreover, brickworks cannot be completed all in one go, and today it’s more difficult to find skilled masonry workers; even when one is successfully sourced, the labor cost is quite high,” said Dr. Ming Jing, researcher at Faculty of Engineering, Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi.

According to Dr. Ming, the precast concrete system is a faster and more efficient alternative to traditional brickwork; however, it is costly and more suitable with large-scale construction projects. “If there’s a new material that can combine both structural and wall material functions, then the construction cost and time will be reduced,” he said.

“The initial studies on Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) revealed that this lightweight, high heat resistant, and excellent insulation material offers a suitable alternative for home construction in Thailand in the future. From these studies, we developed a new material that has glass fiber reinforced polymer as an additional component, which strengthens its wall-bearing property as well as retaining its heat resistant and lightweight properties,” he said.

A comparative study was conducted to test the glass fiber reinforced SIPs. Results indicated that the new material could withstand more bending than compression and that the progressive damage was gradual, rather than immediate, which makes it safe for building construction. The thermal conductivity value is low, at 0.038 and 0.039 Watt per Meter per Celsius, which is lower than other materials and leads to reduced electricity bill.

“With today’s high electricity consumption, the reinforced SIPs offer a highly suitable alternative for today’s home construction; moreover, it delivers strength, beauty, energy efficiency, fast construction time, and excellent fire insulation all in one package,” Dr. Ming added.

In terms of weight, the reinforced SIPs are five times lighter than clay bricks and two times lighter than superblock concrete blocks, which means that the reinforced SIPs help reduce both the structural size and construction cost. As an excellent insulation material, the SIPs prevents outside heat from entering homes, thus minimizing the need to turn on air-conditioning and saving electricity consumption.

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