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Insulation ~ Polyurethane

Category: insulation February 16th, 2009 by mbc

Often abbreviated to PU, Polyurethane is usually applied as a foam insulation sprayed onto the underside of roof rafters.

insulation

Description
A complex manufactured compound, polyurethane has traditionally been manufactured from petrochemicals and so has a few green credentials except for those gained from the energy it saves. Recent developments toward the use of polyols derived from vegetable oils to make polyurethane may yet redress this and shift this technology toward the green part of the insulation rainbow.

Features

  • Manufactured from petrochemicals so not sustainable and toxic when burnt.
  • High embodied energy.
  • Low k-value.
  • Moisture & fire resistant.
  • Adds structural stability to a roof, seals small gaps etc. – Can be a viable alternative to a complete re-roof.

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Performance
Polyurethane has a thermal conductivity or K value of 0.02 W/m.K.
(Watts per meter Kelvin ~ a lower value is a better result)

Cost
Per meter costs are difficult to derive as Polyurethane is usually supplied as an all-in service including installation. Typically, it will cost 4 to 5 times more than mainstream alternatives such as mineral wool with a total cost of £2-3,000 for an average UK home.

Reference:
For the science see the very thorough Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyurethane

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Insulation ~ Mineral Wool

Category: insulation January 3rd, 2009 by mbc

Mineral Wool is an inorganic product manufactured from glass or rock. Most commonly seen in the UK in the form of rolls used for loft insulation it is also used in granular form as a cavity wall filler and as rigid slabs in construction. Certain products use recycled glass and can so claim green credentials.

insulation

Description
A long-time favourite in the UK, sometimes also know as rock wool.

Although the production of mineral wool consumes relatively large amounts of energy, manufacturers counter this with evidence of far greater energy savings over its installed life.

Features

  • High embodied energy.
  • Fire resistant.
  • The fibres can be an irritant.
  • Versatile and relatively easy to fit.
  • Formaldehyde (a hazardous chemical and known carcinogen) is used in its production. However, mineral wool as a product is ‘unclassifiable as to its carcinogenicity in humans’*.

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Performance
At 220mm thickness, installed between rafters mineral wool has a thermal conductivity or K value of 0.038 W/m.K.
(Watts per meter Kelvin ~ lower value is a better result)

Cost
Cheap … shop around as for example, B&Q will currently provide upto 80 square metres installed for £198 or under £2.50 per square metre.

* classification of mineral wool fibres by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

References
greenspec

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Insulation ~ Wood Fibreboard

Category: insulation October 30th, 2008 by mbc

Made from pulped wood, wood fibreboard is potentially a local material for all. As such the challenges and costs (both financial and environmental) of transportation can be more easily managed than some alternatives.

insulation

Description
The pulped wood is held together to form boards, the adhesive used will influence the sustainability and environmental impact of the specific board. A resin adhesive is sometimes used to bind fibres, in some the natural lignin present among the fibres fulfils this role, or the fibres can be interwoven.

Features

  • Non-toxic (usually) & non-irritating.
  • Biodegradable.
  • Renewable.
  • Adaptable. Can be used between wooden studs or in construction, for example external boarding protected by a coat of render.
  • Self-supporting. Wood fibreboard is rigid.

Performance
Wood external fibreboards at 250 kgs/m2 have a thermal conductivity or K value of 0.049 W/m.K.
(Watts per meter Kelvin ~ a lower value is a better result)

Cost
Approximately £30m2 – bear in mind that this is both a structural and insulating material.

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References

http://www.natureproinsulation.co.uk/external_board.htm

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Insulation ~ Strawboard

Category: insulation October 23rd, 2008 by mbc

Made from straw, a practically global resource strawboard is potentially a local material for all. Best viewed as an insulating ecological alternative to chipboard rather than purely as an insulator.

Description
Strawboard is made from straw waste that is pressed and then exposed to heat. Heated straw sweats out resins which create a natural binder. Strawboard can be sawn and painted and treated as a building material as well as an insulator.

insulation

Features

  • Biodegradable.
  • Renewable.
  • Low embodied energy.
  • Locks in carbon.
  • Fire resistant. Highly compressed strawboard panels do not bear enough oxygen to be flamable.
  • Strong. Stramit strawboard panels will bear 1100kg without deforming.
  • Unstable? Potentially unstable in humid environments.

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Performance
Cork boards at 120 kgs/m2 have a thermal conductivity or K value of 0.081 W/m.K.
(Watts per meter Kelvin ~ a lower value is a better result)

Cost
Consider for use in conjunction with other insulation. 18mm strawboard costs around £10 a square meter.

References:

http://www.stramit-int.com/applications.html

http://www.stramit-int.com/properties.html

http://www.plantfibretechnology.com/default.aspx?pageID=5&contentID=61

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Insulation ~ Cork

Category: insulation September 28th, 2008 by mbc

You knew there was a use for cork except for sealing wine bottles…

Description
Cork is a natural and effective insulator. One disadvantage for the UK builder is the need to import cork from countries with the climate to grow it such as Portugal and other Mediterranean countries (China and India are now getting in on the act). Cork is fire-retardant, resists mold and is non-toxic.

insulation

Features

  • Biodegradable.
  • Renewable.
  • Low embodied energy.
  • Excellent acoustic insulation.
  • Low impact production – few chemical additives.
  • Self-supporting. Cork boards do not slump and therefore maintain their structure and insulating properties over time.

Performance
Cork boards at 120 kgs/m2 have a thermal conductivity or K value of 0.04 W/m.K.
(Watts per meter Kelvin ~ a lower value is a better result)

Cost
As production is still relatively small scale, cost is relatively high – I guess! I’m currently unable to get UK prices for Cork insulation – anyone able to advise?

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…if only we could collect our wine bottle corks and make our own…

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Progress

Autumn 2013

Right that’s the summer over with, now I can get on with some real work without the distractions of other things (like holidays and playing with children, all that enjoyable stuff that gets in the way of progress)… With few major jobs (painting, boxing in – nasty stuff!) left inside, mainly fiddly things that need […]

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