Durability Testing of a Cattail (Typha spp.) based Insulation Material against Termite Attack

IRG/WP 17-10879

M Dass, W Unger, T L Woods

The use of insulating materials is particularly important in the construction industries, especially with regard to the use of wood and naturally occurring substances. The use and durability of natural materials as insulating materials is of keen interest to many construction experts, and continues to be a topic of intense investigation. It is generally agreed that the use of natural substances as insulation is possible if certain harmful influences are prevented or controlled. We investigated plant material of the cattail plant (Typha spp.) which consists of long, tear-resistant fibers and a compressible sponge-like tissue. The test material has a low specific density of 0.65 kg/m³. Test specimens consisted of sections of insulating panels which would typically be used in walls and roofing areas, as well as inside living areas. It is especially desirable that cattail-based insulating material is suitable for use in tropical environments where the insect and decay hazard is more severe than in temperate climates. In our research, we examined the resistance of a cattail-based insulation material against destruction by termites. Objectives were to determine resistance against termites and to assign a durability class to the test material. The experiments are in accordance with the European standard EN 117 and EN 118. The termite species Reticulitermes santonensis de Feytaud is the test organism. The test specimens have dimensions of 50 x 25 x 15 mm, and the test duration is 56 days. The test arrangement includes three different variations: the Force Test is a test with only one specimen in a vessel; the Choice Test includes two specimens; and the Control Test demonstrates the behavior of termites under optimal conditions. The test results are discussed with emphasis on the possible use of cattail-based insulation material in tropical countries where termite resistance is of particular importance.

Keywords: Typha, cattail-based insulation material, Reticulitermes, termite resistance, termite test methodology, application in tropical countries

Conference: 17-06-04/08 Ghent, Belgium

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