ECOPHIT® for a Comfortable Room Climate

As part of ceilings, floors or walls in offices, meeting rooms or living spaces, ECOPHIT® shows exceptional versatility when it comes to providing a healthy room climate. Surface heating/ cooling systems offer comfortable temperatures throughout the year, interior design freedom and economical use of our resources.

ECOPHIT® can make your applications more efficient, too. Why not see for yourself!

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Graphite is a crystalline modification of elemental carbon. A characteristic feature is the structure of the crystals, which consist of superimposed planar carbon layers.

Within a layer, the atoms are linked to each other by chemical bonds, while between the layers, there are only weak forces of attraction. The result is marked anisotropy (directional dependency) of many properties. For example, graphite has high electrical and thermal conductivity in a direction parallel to the carbon layers but perpendicular to the layers both these conductivity values are low.

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Expanded Natural Graphite

Expanded graphite is manufactured from natural graphite flakes with well-ordered crystalline structures. The distances between the carbon layers are greatly enlarged by a special technical process. In this process, graphite is treated with an intercalating agent to form a graphite intercalation compound, which is then rapidly heated (thermal shock) to temperatures of around 1000 °C. This causes the intercalation compound to decompose, releasing the intercalating agent in the form of a gas, which pushes adjacent carbon layers apart.

In this process, the graphite flakes increase in volume by a factor of 200 to 400. The expanded graphite takes the form of flakes with an accordion- or worm-like appearance. Each of these "worms" is an aggregate of many ordered crystalline carbon layer packets. The “worms” can be further processed by milling, compounding, compression, impregnation, lamination and calendering to suit the particular application.

The thermal and electrical conductivity values of graphite foils and sheets depend on the bulk density of the material and can therefore be adjusted as required by the compaction process. Owing to the layer structure of graphite, both these conductivity values are highly direction-dependent (anisotropic). During compaction, the carbon layer planes are ordered preferentially in a direction horizontal to the pressure direction; the higher the compaction, the more pronounced this orientation. In the production of graphite foils and sheets, the layer planes therefore come to lie predominantly parallel to the plane of the sheet or foil. This means that thermal conductivity (and similarly electrical conductivity) along the plane of the sheet is considerably higher – by a factor of between 3 and 40, depending on the degree of compaction – than the value perpendicular to the sheet plane.

Expanded graphite is chemically inert, resistant to aging, harmless to health, soft and compressible, heat-resistant and non-flammable. It undergoes slow flameless oxidation in air at temperatures above 450 °C.

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ECOPHIT® - The Graphite Construction Material with Versatile Potential

Both sheets and granules produced from expanded natural graphite are suitable construction materials for air conditioning. The graphite granules, available in different particle sizes, are used as additives for inorganic construction materials and plastics. In addition, graphite sheets and granules can be combined with latent heat storage materials to form composites that are employed, for example, as a storage medium in decentralized air conditioning units.

Graphite construction materials are used in this application primarily because of their good thermal conductivity. But recently, graphite materials have also caught the attention of architects, planners and building contractors on account of their ability to shield against electromagnetic waves. This shielding effect results from the electrical conductivity of the graphite.

Start the Interactive tour and see for yourself how ECOPHIT® graphite construction materials increase the energy efficiency of room air conditioning.

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Savings Potentials in Cooling and Heating

Against a background of rising energy costs and threatened climate changes, building contractors, architects and planners are looking for ways to meet the winter heating and summer cooling demands of buildings in the most efficient manner possible.

The construction materials used play a very important role here. With materials that permit rapid, uniform heat distribution, the efficiency of surface heating and cooling systems can be significantly improved. Our ECOPHIT® graphite construction materials are particularly suitable for this purpose.

The starting product for these construction materials is high-quality natural graphite, from which expanded graphite is made in a first step. This high-volume material consisting of graphite flakes is compacted without binder addition to form self-supporting sheets and foils. Both sheets and granules made from expanded graphite are suitable construction materials.

ECOPHIT® Lightweight Construction Panels for Building Technology

For construction applications, ECOPHIT® graphite panels with bulk densities between 0.05 and 0.25 g/cm³ and thicknesses between 10 and 35 mm are of particular interest. They are extremely lightweight construction panels and excellent thermal conductors at the same time. For a bulk density of only 0.1 g/cm³, the thermal conductivity value parallel to the panel surface is 13 W/(m•K) – which is about the same thermal conductivity as that of high-alloy steel. Panels of this type distribute heat extremely quickly and uniformly across the surface, while weighing very little. They are therefore highly suitable for use as thermally conducting panels in surface heating/ cooling systems.

Since the material is compressible and conforms well to adjacent solid surfaces, meander tubes can be fully embedded in the graphite panels without any problem or need for mechanical finishing. The tight but flexible connection between the tubing and graphite ensures that the heat transfer resistance between the two components is extremely low. Heating/ cooling panels often have a sandwich-like construction with two outer graphite panels on either side of an inner meander tube.

The good heat transfer properties offer a number of advantages. Compared with conventional heating/ cooling systems without graphite lightweight construction panels, the spacing between the straight sections of the meander tube can be increased by about 30 %, which substantially cuts the materials costs for the meander tube. If the tube spacing remains unchanged, energy consumption and therefore operating costs can be significantly reduced through much lower flow temperatures. This also facilitates the use of renewable energies. Because the specific heat output per element increases considerably (by up to 30 %), a smaller heating or cooling surface is required to heat/ cool the room, which offers advantages in terms of ceiling utilization (utilization factor ß* according to the VDI Guideline). In addition, the systems achieve highly dynamic behavior, i.e. respond quickly to changes in the heating or cooling water temperature.

Curious? Start the Interactive tour and find out which systems can be made even more efficient with ECOPHIT® lightweight construction panels.

* The utilization factor ß of a cooling ceiling is the proportion of the total ceiling area occupied by the active cooling ceiling area (values above 75 % are rarely achievable)

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ECOPHIT® Composite Materials for Thermal Energy Storage Systems

In recent years, latent heat or cold storage has been attracting increasing attention in air conditioning technology. The aim is to adjust the supply of heat or cold to ongoing requirements in terms of both time and output. Latent heat storage materials (phase change materials, PCMs) store large quantities of heat in the form of heat of fusion. Choice of the particular PCM depends on the temperature at which the heat is to be stored and discharged.

The problem is that all known PCM materials are poor heat conductors. But in combination with ECOPHIT®, the thermal conductivity of these materials can be increased considerably, making it possible to design dynamic latent heat storage systems with high thermal output. For building service applications, PCM/ graphite composite materials in the form of infiltrated panels or coarse-grained compounds are available. PCM/ graphite panels are slightly compacted expanded natural graphite panels, into which a PCM melting at, for example, 24 °C has been infiltrated. Panels of this type are used, for example, in decentralized air conditioning units. In summer, such units absorb heat loads during the day and release them to the outside air in the cool of the night, which leads to very economic operation.

On our Interactive tour through an office building, you will find out how you can make the climate in your office even more comfortable with ECOPHIT® PCM/ composite materials.

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ECOPHIT® Graphite Powder

The graphite granules and powder available in different grain sizes are used as additives for inorganic construction materials and plastics.

The combination of gypsum plaster and graphite granules improves the thermal conductivity of plasterboard by a factor of 3 to over 0.52 W/(m•K), without impairing its basic properties. With a thermal conductivity value similar to that of water, Climafit™ Prothermo plasterboards from Saint-Gobain Rigips GmbH provide an excellent, thermally efficient covering for surface heating/ cooling systems.

Climafit™ Protekto graphite-modified plasterboard is electrically conductive and therefore provides electromagnetic (EMI) shielding. Just a 10 mm thick panel attenuates the incident radiation (frequency-dependent) by up to 99.99 %, with shielding being predominantly achieved by absorption of the radiation. Through the use of two superimposed panels, the shielding effect can be increased to 99.9999 %. This new-generation plasterboard can effectively protect hospitals, kindergartens, schools and living spaces from electromagnetic radiation.

"In the construction industry, shielding products that do not achieve their effect solely through reflection of the electromagnetic waves are relatively rare. We can therefore especially recommend Climafit 10 and Climafit 15 plasterboard for applications where incident electromagnetic waves must not only be reflected but also absorbed as fully as possible."

from: Expert Report by the University of the German Federal Armed Forces Munich, HF, Microwave and Radar Technology Department (Universität der Bundeswehr Munich, HF-, Mikrowellen- und Radartechnik),
Prof. P. Pauli (Dipl.-Ing.)

You can see how to protect your bedroom from electromagnetic rays by visiting the family home or kindergarten in the office building on our Interactive tour.

Picture source: Saint-Gobain Rigips GmbH

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Deutsche Bank

In a comprehensive building upgrade, the head office of the Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt is being turned into one of the most ecofriendly high-rise buildings in the world. On completion of this project, the energy consumption and CO2 emissions of the twin towers will be reduced by at least 50 %. Among the measures contributing to this reduction are intelligent lighting systems and a new air conditioning concept. An important part of this new concept is an energy storage system for heating and cooling, which is based on heating and cooling ceilings with ECOPHIT® lightweight construction panels and concrete core cooling.

The system relies on both the storage capacity of the concrete and the excellent heat transfer properties of ECOPHIT® lightweight construction panels. The very lightweight ECOPHIT® graphite panels are used in the cooling ceiling elements mounted under the concrete ceiling, where they ensure very rapid and uniform distribution of cold and heat. Because the use of ECOPHIT® panels considerably increases the specific heat output per element, a smaller heating or cooling surface is required for space heating/ cooling (in comparison with systems without graphite/ concrete core cooling).

During the night, cool water flows through the elements, which are in direct contact with the concrete ceiling, and the cold is discharged into the concrete and stored there. The next day, the thermal energy released in the office is absorbed into the cool concrete.

Learn about this surface heating/ cooling system in more detail on our Interactive tour.

Further Information Interactive tourNew Deutsche Bank Towers

BMW Welt

A stunning double cone and floating cloud roof. This is BMW Welt in Munich – a cultural event center that blends harmoniously into the architectural context of the Olympic Park and the existing BMW buildings.

To enable visitors to enjoy this unique world in comfortable temperatures, a surface heating/ cooling system with graphite-modified plasterboard was installed at BMW Welt. The combination of gypsum plaster and ECOPHIT® granules improves the thermal conductivity of the panels by a factor of 3 to over 0.52 W/(m•K), without impairing the basic properties of the plasterboard. With a thermal conductivity value similar to that of water, this plasterboard, supplied under the Climafit™ brand name, provides an excellent, thermally efficient covering for surface heating systems.

On the Interactive tour, you can learn more about innovative surface heating/ cooling with graphite-modified plasterboard, which has already won numerous awards.

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Düsseldorf District Court

The new Düsseldorf Justice Center (Düsseldorfer Justizzentrum) is not intended to be closed off architecturally but to appear open to all citizens. Through the interplay of transparent and closed surfaces and air spaces – with a high, glass-roofed entrance hall, floor-to-ceiling windows, two inner courtyards and several atriums – the Düsseldorf District Court gives an open, transparent impression.

The new building is air-conditioned in a rather similar way to that used long ago by the ancient Romans, who passed air through ducts under their houses for cooling and heating purposes. In the course of this project, Germany’s largest geothermal collector is being constructed. In future, 100,000 cubic meters of air per hour will be passed through 800 m long subterranean shafts and used for the geothermal heat exchanger. In summer, the ambient air will cool down in the geothermal collector and in winter it will be warmed up here and used to heat the building and therefore to reduce energy costs.

This principle is reinforced by a latent heat exchanger with ECOPHIT® PCM/ graphite composite materials, which once again stores heat or cold from the air and releases it again on demand.

Start the Interactive tour and learn about two other systems for air conditioning with ECOPHIT® PCM/ graphite composite materials in office and business premises.

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ECOPHIT® – An Award-Winning Material

Numerous awards testify to the highly innovative nature of ECOPHIT® material. The world’s first plasterboard containing ECOPHIT® graphite in the plaster core has already won five prestigious awards. What’s more, "ECOPHIT® – The new graphite construction material for building technology" also received the "Official Key Project" award from the Bavarian Competence Center for the Environment.

Products marketed under the brand names Climafit™ Protekto and Climafit™ Prothermo represent a new generation of plasterboard that sets standards for outstanding thermal conductivity and electromagnetic shielding, while retaining the good basic properties of plasterboard.

Climafit™ has been developed by the the SGL Group’s Business Unit New Markets in collaboration with the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Plastics and Composites Technology in Naila, Germany and Saint-Gobain Rigips GmbH in Bodenwerder, Germany.

On the Interactive tour you can find out how to improve the climate in apartment buildings and offices with Climafit™ Prothermo or shield residential and business premises from electromagnetic radiation with Climafit™ Protekto.

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KUMAS Key Project

Since 1997, the Bavarian Competence Center for the Environment (KUMAS) has been presenting its annual "Official Key Project" Award. This award recognizes processes, products, services, concepts, developments and research findings that best demonstrate environmental competence "made in Bavaria". By granting awards for key projects, KUMAS supports the development and implementation of innovative projects and thereby safeguards the region’s scientific and technical expertise on the environment.

"ECOPHIT® – The new graphite construction material for building technology" is one of three projects that were awarded the status of "KUMAS Key Project 2009" in Augsburg on December 3, 2009.

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2009 MATERIALICA Design + Technology Award

An award-winning product is the result of a perfect interplay between material selection, engineering and design. For seven years now, MunichExpo Veranstaltungs GmbH has presented the MATERIALICA Design + Technology Award to highlight this interplay and the key importance of materials for industrial design-oriented applications. The aim is to provide a communications platform for designers, material manufacturers, developers, engineers and producers.

At MATERIALICA 2009 in Munich, our Climafit™ natural graphite/ plaster composite won the 2009 MATERIALICA Design + Technology Award 2009 in recognition of its innovative character.

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2009 Industry Award

Every year since 2006, the Small- and Medium-sized Business Initiative instituted by Huber Verlag für Neue Medien GmbH presents its INDUSTRY AWARD at the HANNOVER Trade Show. By doing so, it offers industrial companies the chance to introduce their advanced and innovative products to the general public.

The Award’s focus is not on the company itself but on the solutions it offers to provide extra benefit and high functionality.

At the Hannover Trade Show 2009, Business Unit New Markets was awarded the title of "Qualified for the 2009 Industry Award" for developing the world’s first plasterboard with ECOPHIT® graphite in the plaster core.

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2008 Löhn Award

The Löhn Award for knowledge and technology transfer was inaugurated and presented for the first time by the Steinbeis Foundation in 2004 to honor the unique achievement of Prof. Johann Löhn. The Löhn Award recognizes projects involving outstanding knowledge and technology transfer between science and industry. Transfer projects conducted and completed with exceptional success are considered particularly worthy of this award.

On September 19, 2008, Werner Guckert (SGL Technologies GmbH), Prof. Christian Kipfelsberger (Steinbeis Transfer Center) and Dr Winfried Spickermann (Saint-Gobain Rigips GmbH) accepted the Löhn Award on behalf of their respective companies for jointly developing the graphite-modified Climafit™ plasterboard.

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2008 Innovation Competition organized by the Swabian Chamber of Industry and Commerce/ Augsburg region 2008

The "Swabian Prize for Innovation" is awarded to companies in recognition of outstanding achievement. The achievement may involve the creation of new products, processes or services and is assessed according to the degree of innovation, energy/ environmental considerations and quality criteria. More than 30 companies from all over Swabia entered the 2007/08 Chamber of Industry and Commerce Innovation Competition.

Our innovative Climafit™ plasterboard won Third Prize in the "2nd 2007/2008 Innovation Competition" organized by the Swabian Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

Further Information Swabian Prize for Innovation

2008 Bavarian Innovation Award

In 1995, the Bavarian State Government decided to present a Bavarian Innovation Award every two years as part of the "Bavarian Future Campaign". The Bavarian Innovation Award and up to 10 certificates of merit are handed out by the Bavarian Chief Minister. The award was presented for the first time in 1996.

The awards are made to companies, teams, inventors or company founders in recognition of outstanding, practically oriented, innovative achievements that benefit the Bavarian economy and its competitiveness. The scope of the achievements meriting an award ranges from basic research for product innovation to improving the competitiveness of the economy through new processes and market strategies.

The 2008 Bavarian Innovation Award, certificates of merit and a special award were presented by Chief Minister Dr Günther Beckstein on June 2, 2008 at a ceremony in the Domed Hall of the Bavarian State Chancellery. A certificate of merit was received by SGL Technologies GmbH, Meitingen, the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Plastics and Composites Technology, Naila, Germany, and Saint-Gobain Rigips GmbH, Bodenwerder, Germany, for the project entitled: "Graphite-containing plasterboard with enhanced thermal conductivity and electromagnetic shielding capacity".

Further Information "Bavarian Innovation Award 2008"

Bettina Fischer
Tel: + 49 8271 83-1366