reduce heat in your home with insulation
Reduce Heat in your Home With Insulation
October 27, 2017
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types of thermal insulation

Types of Thermal Insulation

There are many Types of Thermal Insulation on the market. The first pre-historic people built shelters to protect themselves from weather elements and wild animals.

Due to the biting cold, the need for insulating materials arose. The most common materials used back then include animal skins, wool, and fur among others. These were the popular Types of Thermal Insulation of the day.

These insulating materials were readily available thanks to their hunting and gathering lifestyle. As humans advanced in terms of building technology, the need arose for better thermal insulation materials. In fact, before the start of the 19th century, animal skins and fur were replaced slowly by earth, stone, and wood.

As time went by, this was found not to be enough and sustainable. As a result, the production of better thermal insulation that could be used in homes, commercial buildings and industries arose.

Types of Thermal Insulation

Here are types of thermal insulation materials suitable for homes, commercial and industrial buildings.

Isotherm Insulation Thermal Insulation

The Isotherm Insulation is a polyester type Roof Insulation product. This insulation is dust free and allergy free. In fact, the insulation is manufactured from recycled plastic bottles. Isotherm is in fact regarded as one of the most eco-friendly roof insulation products on the market as the Isotherm itself can be recycled. Read more on Isotherm benefits here.

Rock wool Thermal Insulation

In 1897, Rock wool was prepared by an American chemical engineer by the name Charles Corydon Hall. He used limestone as the ideal material.

Commercial production of the insulation material began in Alexandria, the USA in Charles Corydon factory called Crystal Chemical Works. As time went by, the chemical engineer started combining basalt with limestone which was followed by the melting of the mixture.

This was done in a gas heated smelting furnace at a temperature range of 1500 to 1600 degrees C. Air and steam were blown into the mixture resulting in the formation of fine and intertwined fibers thanks to high-speed spinning wheels. Phenol formaldehyde resin and oil emulsion were added as binders.

At the same time, Venetians and Egyptians discovered that they could create threads from hot glass. These threads were used for decorative purposes on their vessels which led to the production of fiberglass.

Today, the making of rock wool starts with the heating of natural rock up to 3,000 degrees C in a furnace. This results in a magma-like liquid which is exposed to steam or pressured air.

The liquid is then spun at super high speeds finally creating long fiber strands. These strands are then collected and compressed into dense mats. The mats are cut into well-sized batts of insulation before being shipped off.

Rock wool is considered to be unique because:

  • Contains 75% recycled content
  • Has the ability to retain heat
  • Traps air slowing heat loss
  • Repels water
  • Acts as soundproof material
  • Has a higher insulating value than fiberglass
  • Produced from natural and sustainable material

Aerogel Thermal Insulation

Produced from a gel where the liquid component is replaced by a gas, Aerogel is an ultralight thermal insulating material. It is characterized by low density (0.020 g cubic centimeters or higher) and low thermal conductivity. Nicknamed solid air or frozen smoke due to its translucent nature, it is fragile to the touch.

The blue cast characteristic is as a result of Rayleigh scattering of short wavelengths of light off nanoparticles. It is derived from the part of the gel that gives it the solid-like nature. The most common type of aerogel is silica aerogel which solidifies into clusters (three dimensional and intertwined).

It is made from methyltrimethoxysilane. Other materials used include transition metal oxides, lanthanide, and actinide metal oxides plus organic polymers among others.

As a good thermal insulator, it is able to reduce heat transfer by conduction, convection, and radiation. Here is why it’s considered a great thermal insulating material against the different modes of heat transfer.

  • Conduction – its composed entirely of gases which makes it a poor heat conductor
  • Convection – it prevents heat transfer by convection by inhibiting air circulation via the lattice. This is possible since it contains 99.98% air located in extremely small nanopores that measure a billionth of a meter.
  • Radiation – allows the passing of radiant energy

Extruded Polystyrene Thermal Insulation

This is a closed cell thermal insulation characterized by low thermal conductivity, high compressive strength and high resistance to water permeability.

As a lightweight thermal insulating material, it has a density range of 28 to 45 kg per cubic meter. It contains insulating gases and air which diffuses out of the cell within the first two years after production.

This process is called thermal drifting or aging. When the insulating gas leaks, the remaining space is filled with air. As a result, its R-value is reduced. Although the gases do leak during aging, facers are not needed in order to maintain performance.

The first polystyrene foam was manufactured in 1931 in the US. It was invented by a Carl G. Munters, a Swedish inventor and John Tandberg.

Both inventors went ahead to patent the technology used to create the first polystyrene. The patented technology was later used by Otis R. McIntire in 1941, an engineer from Dow Chemical Company. He started by heating white polystyrene granulates to 200 degrees C.

This was done in an extruder where chlorinated hydrocarbon was added as a foaming agent. The final mixture was passed through a narrow aperture resulting in extruded polystyrene with closed cell foam.

Today, XPS is extruded during manufacturing which means the end product is available in a specific size, unlike the EPS which is cut into blocks by hot wire machines.

The extrusion process starts with the use of solid polystyrene crystals. Together with a blowing agent and special additives, they are fed into an extruder.

The mixture is combined and melted under specific pressure and temperature finally becoming a plastic fluid. This liquid is expanded into foam, shaped, cooled and trimmed to size.

The final product is usually branded by the manufacturer and made available in a wide range of colors. It is important to note that the different colors have nothing to do with its performance as a thermal insulator.

Aerolite Glass Wool Thermal Insulation

Read more on Aerolite Insulation is manufactured from silica sand, cullet (recycled glass) and fluxing agents, the ingredients are combined and melted to 1100 degrees C in an electric furnace.

Afterward, the mixture is conditioned in a glassified forehearth. Centrifugal forces are applied while in a drilled circular baskets leading to the formation of fiber. During this process, binding agents and other elements are added.

Since no CFCs or HCFCs are produced during production, glass wool is considered to be environmentally friendly. The fiber is collected to form a mat. This happens in the collection chamber after which it is conveyed to an oven.

Here, it is cured under controlled conditions until the required density and thickness is achieved. The final product is packaged into batts or roll form which means it can be compressed to a factor of 10. This saves on transport costs and storage.

Glass wool benefits include:

  • Great Thermal Insulation properties.
  • Cooler home in summer
  • Warmer home in winter
  • Great for soundproofing
  • Being resistant to vermin
  • It’s non-combustible. This is the reason why it’s commonly installed in a building frame. If installed in the ceiling, under the floor or roof, it has the ability to last long.
  • It is cost effective to manufacture since silica originates from sand which is an abundant natural resource.
  • It is positioned for use in areas where the operating temperatures can reach up to 300 degrees C.
  • Furthermore, it possesses no health hazards, easy to install and non-corrosive.
  • Ideal for homes reducing temperature and saving on energy.

Mineral Wool Thermal Insulation

Mineral wool is regarded as a unique and versatile thermal insulation material that possess exceptional thermal properties.

As a result, it contributes a lot towards the reduction of heat loss in homes as well as the combating of climate change. Since it’s composed of a mat of fibers, it helps to prevent the movement of air, combat noise pollution and lower the risk of fire.

Mineral wool is made from limestone, soda ash, sand and molten glass. The ingredients are combined and spun into a fiber mixture.

The fiber mixture has thermal insulation properties that no other insulation material can match. Since the end product is porous in nature, it helps to trap air between the fibers.

This eliminates the need for injecting air between the fibers. Since air is a poor conductor of heat, it lowers heat loss in a home thus saving energy.

Here is how it prevents heat loss according to the different modes of heat transfer:

  • Convection –the open cell matrix entraps air preventing the transfer of heat from the interior to the exterior of the home
  • Conduction – heat loss by conduction is eliminated thanks to the availability of less solid material. Majority of solid materials are known to be excellent heat transmitters. Less solid material means fewer pathways.

The material can be produced into a wide range of densities, formed into different shapes and sheets. Other options available include loose granular material that is used for blown insulation of cavity walls. It can also be used as a slab for walls, ceiling tiles and as acoustic panels.

Hempcrete Thermal Insulation

Referred to as Hemp lime, the bio-composite is made of a lime-based binder and the inner woody core of the hemp plant. The woody core has a high silica content which acts as a great binding agent.

Combination of the above ingredients results in a light cementitious insulation material that weighs a seventh of a concrete. Once fully cured, it has the ability of floating in a bucket of water.

The insulation material has been used in Europe for centuries not only to insulate homes but as a building material. The strain grown for hempcrete has 0.3% THC meaning it cannot cause hallucinations.

Hempcrete is preferred as an insulation material for its durability and use of natural materials. As a result, it has a negative carbon footprint. The insulation material has the ability to reduce energy consumption, improving comfort and reducing condensation.

It also provides natural insulation that is flexible, airtight and breathable. Since its toxin-free, its resistant to mold and pests. In addition, it is fire resistant thanks to the use of limestone during curing.

Final Thoughts On Types of Thermal Insulation

During the cold months of winter, keeping the house warm with a heater is the norm. If your home feels cold despite cranking up the heater, then the problem may be with the thermal insulation material.

To ensure that your home remains cozy and save on energy bills in the process, upgrade your insulation. Thermal insulation is cost-effective, unlike your heater.

For starters, you will come across thermal insulating materials like hempcrete and rock wool which are made from natural and sustainable materials. In addition, the majority of thermally insulating materials are pest and fire resistant.

As a result, your energy bills will reduce now that your home is energy efficient. Additionally, it will cost less to heat your home during the cold months of winter. To enjoy the above benefits of thermal insulation and more, you need to invest in the right material. Available choices include rock wool, aerogel, extruded polystyrene, glass wool, mineral wool and hempcrete.

Of the above Types of Thermal Insulation, we install the Isotherm and the Aerolite as well as Ecose Earthwool.

Areas to install thermal insulation materials include the attic, exterior walls, interior walls, crawlspace and basement among others.

Remember, the higher the R-value of an insulating material, the more effective and efficient it is – performance wise.


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