Project: Recycling exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS)

In the 1970s, work began on equipping buildings with thermal insulation composite systems (TICS) on their façades to reduce energy consumption. In the coming years, the first generation of TICS will reach the end of their useful life and end up in the waste stream. The amount of TICS requiring disposal will increase significantly in the following years. Alongside landfill, “thermal utilization” (incineration) is currently the main disposal option. However, in the interests of dealing with raw materials in a sustainable manner, material recycling is preferable to energy recovery and especially to landfill.

The “Particle technology and Raw materials innovation” (FPR) research group at Nuremberg Tech is therefore trying to develop approaches and solution strategies for the preparation and material recycling of complex external thermal insulation composite systems (TICS). TICS are composite parts that are made up of several components and are usually connected by a material bond (see Fig.).

Depending on the application requirements, there is a variety of insulating materials on the market, including inorganic/mineral and synthetic and natural organic insulating materials. These are applied to the masonry in question using various bonding methods and usually have rendering, reinforcing fabric, and finishing plaster applied to them. In addition, the systems are mostly further secured with different fixing techniques. This complex structure means that considerable technical requirements must be met in order to recycle TICS. In addition, pollutants in the components, such as sulphate (in the plaster layers) and HBCD (in some insulation materials), make recycling more difficult.

By characterizing the material combinations and investigating the structures, interfaces, and their connecting elements it should be possible to develop a process for the homogeneous decomposition of the systems, taking into account the problem of pollutants. Developing the desired value-added chain for high-quality material recycling and consequently the resource-friendly handling of input materials should contribute to the sustainable use of raw materials.

We would also like to thank our project partners, Porzellanfabrik Walküre and Fraunhofer ICT.

Further information is available at:



Thomas Fehn, Kevin Hefele

Main areas of work:

-    Characterization of the properties of the recycled material

-    Characterization of product properties

-    Selective comminution of TICS rubble

-    Standardized elution and determination of pollutants in construction materials

-    Modelling the recycling paths of thermal insulation composite systems