01/06/2004 - 22:00

Air-cell fills niche with fibre-free technology

01/06/2004 - 22:00

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WHEN Brian Tikey was presented with a piece of satellite insulation material developed by NASA in 1996 he recognised more than just the technological achievement of the US’s space agency – he saw potential.

Air-cell fills niche with fibre-free technology

WHEN Brian Tikey was presented with a piece of satellite insulation material developed by NASA in 1996 he recognised more than just the technological achievement of the US’s space agency – he saw potential.

A builder at the time, Mr Tikey saw the material’s potential for use in building insulation and, with his business partner developed the concept from a workshop in a City Beach garage.

It was a year before the partners were confident enough of the market’s acceptance of fibre-free insulation to approach an Australian company to manufacture the product.

Seven years later, with combined sales in Australia of more than $10 million and distributors in Asia, New Zealand and Saudi Arabia, Air-cell is now working on its third-generation product.

General manager Scott Gibson said the home-owning public was becoming more health conscious and it was this sector that Air-cell was targeting. In fact the company’s major source of residential business comes from second or third homebuyers who are looking for a clean, safe form of insulation.

“Of course we’re not going to say our products are the best on the market in every application, but in terms of delivering energy efficiency in a clean, fibre-free and non-allergenic way, we believe that we have very few equals,” Mr Gibson said.

“Air-cell products can be placed in the traditional wall, ceiling, roof and floor in residential dwellings, but it also has a unique application within schools, health clubs, indoor pool centres, showrooms and shopping centres, where energy efficiency and a fibre-free insulation medium are more desirable than traditional fibre-based insulations.”

Air-cell has also found a market niche in the wine industry. Wineries use the product in their buildings, barrel rooms and to control vat fermentation temperatures by lining the chamber walls and pipes.

“Wineries traditionally have had problems with moisture, and our product overcomes this problem. The Western Australian wineries we have recently supplied include Yalumba, De Bortoli, Moss Brothers and Happs,” Mr Gibson said.

T and Z Architects has designed several schools in Western Australia, including the Mt Lawley High School, which will use more than 10,000 square meters of Air-cell.

Peter Leighton from T and Z said the Education Department, Department of Housing and Works and parents of schoolchildren were becoming more aware of the building products used in schools.

“Air-cell performs better than some other types of insulation. It has very good non-toxic, anti-bacterial and anti-allergy properties, which makes it ideal for use in schools,” Mr Leighton said.

The same benefits that make Air-cell ideal for schools and wineries also apply to residential homes, according to Solar Dwellings director Griff Morris.

“We generally use Air-cell in every double brick wall that we build,” Mr Morris said.

“We use it because it is easy to install, is cost efficient, doesn’t transfer moisture, and it gives a very efficient barrier from transfer of heat.”

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