We already have written a post about Permafrost. Although this Permafrost is unknown in our regions, a lot of people have to make their lifes on such an underground. In the Northern Hemisphere, 24% of the ice-free land area, equivalent to 19 million square kilometers,is more or less influenced by permafrost. Most of this area is found in Siberia, northern Canada, Alaska and Greenland.
The basic problem to live on Permafrost is the stability because there is an active layer, which is melting every summer. Building on this layer makes that the building is continuous sinking into the underground.
Above on the left, a standard building is “sinking” into the underground while at the right, the building is put on concrete pillars, deep into the permafrost with a concrete slab on top of this pillars to support all bending forces of the building. The havier the building (more concrete), the deeper the pillars are put into the permafrost (more concrete). Between the ground and the building, we have an airlayer, which avoids that building heat is penetrating into the permafrost, creating even more instability.
The new system replaces the active layer (about 1.5m) by cellular glass. Cellular glass is weight light, can support the building and 1.5m cellular glass avoids perfectly that building heat penetrates into the permafrost. Another advantage is that a climate change hardly influences the permafrost under the building. In that way a lot of concrete has been avoided.
For this application, we don´t need cellular glass with the lowest thermal conductivity, which means that cellular glass, directly foamed from recycled glass will satisfy. This cellular glass can be prefabricated from large boards of 2.8 x 1.2m, today only produced by GLAPOR cellular glass. This can be done with the help of polyurea, like already done for flat roofs. Cellular glass gravel is less suited because it absorbs water, which freezes and increases the weight. I guess that the new construction is a better approach (more stable) and price competitive.