Owlfly YellowJacket™ Insulation
Owlfly YellowJacket™ insulation uses cutting-edge thermodynamic technology to provide some of the best insulation on the market -
and we can prove it.
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YellowJacket™ is American-made, lightweight, water-resistant, non-combustible, non-toxic, non-dusting, irritant-free, and made from recycled materials. And – best of all – YellowJacket™ is ASTM certified as more energy-efficient than nearly all competing brands.
All insulation reduces the flow of thermal energy (or “heat”) from one surface to another. Insulation keeps the heat in during the winter and out during the summer. The same fundamental physics apply to all types of insulation. There are three main types of heat transfer: conduction, convection, and radiation.
YellowJacket™ Insulation is made from a lattice of special air pockets, which are carefully engineered to minimize convective heating. A low-emissivity coating is applied to internal surfaces to eliminate most radiative heating, and the walls of the pockets are thin enough to mitigate conductive heating. In every way, YellowJacket™ Insulation is a simple and efficient choice for all your insulation needs.
While researching wasps for her first book, Chris Alice "Alie" Krater realized that the nests of Arctic Yellowjackets (Dolichovespula albida) could be used as inspiration for a breakthrough in insulation technology.
Arctic Yellowjackets build spherical paper nests in cavities within permafrost high above the Arctic circle. Alie was amazed that these little wasps could survive in such extreme conditions. As it turns out, the nests are protected from the frost by a layer of carefully-engineered air pockets within the paper structure that surrounds the nest – and the thermal properties of that structure was previously unknown to science.
Image © Chris Alice Kratzer (2022)
Alie pitched the idea to the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)'s chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) in 2019. A team led by Ben Ocamb researched the premise and developed a design for a rudimentary prototype for the 2019 Biomimicry Design Challenge through the Biomimicry Institute, but - without any funding - the team was unable to perform thermal testing to validate their hypotheses.
2020 - 2021
In 2020, Alie continued the project through Owlfly LLC. She hired Olivier Montmayeur and Liv Breglia – fellow alumni from RIT and ESW – to help perform extensive thermodynamics testing and modeling, including constructing a custom heat transfer test rig to quickly analyze and compare insulation prototypes. By the end of 2021, the Owlfly team was able to replicate the thermal physics of yellowjacket nests by using the principles of biomimicry. The team named the new insulation YellowJacket™ after the wasps that inspired it.
The Owlfly team pursued grant funding and private investment to build production equipment to bring YellowJacket™ to market. Automation engineer Zoey Katz joined the team to improve Owlfly's in-house manufacturing capability with custom robotics.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Owlfly LLC over a quarter million dollars to aid in the research and development of YellowJacket™ insulation.