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Insulation ~ Sheep’s wool

Category: insulation July 22nd, 2008 by mbc

Perhaps one of the most talked about and attractive recent innovations, sheep’s wool insulation is of particular attraction to those of us who to the woolly West or North of the UK. But does it live up to the hype?

a sheep
the donor!

Description
Sheeps wool is a renewable by-product of the farming industry. It has extremely low embodied energy is in plentiful supply and can act as a humidity regulator as it can absorb up to 40% of its own weight in water, the water being released when conditions change. It is a natural non-toxic, non-irritating material.

Features

  • Non-toxic & non-irritating.
  • Biodegradable*.
  • Renewable.
  • Low embodied energy.
  • Adapts and fits well. Suitable for use in walls, floors and roofs.
  • Fire resistant. Wool melts and extinguishes itself in contact with flame.

* Note: Some products contain polyester as a ‘lofting’ agent (an additive to ensure that the material maintains its structure and air trapping ability over its lifetime). This is usually a blend of recycled and ‘virgin’ polyester. The polyester is at a low enough concentration in the final product to not effect biodegradability.

Note: Early products were somewhat stigmatised due to the reputed use of chemicals in the production process and to improve structure, durability, moisture & insect protection as well as concerns over chemical residues left by sheep dipping. Rubber or polyester and borax (a compound of boron which is a mineral salt of boric acid) tend to be used for these purposes now, thus mostly doing away with such concerns. Testing has concluded that the risk from sheep dipping is negligible.

Performance
At a density of 25kg/m3 sheeps wool has a thermal conductivity or K value of 0.039 W/m.K.
(Watts per meter Kelvin ~ a lower value is a better result)

Cost
As production is still relatively small scale, cost is high relative to other materials.

Representative cost:
A 75mm x 400mm x 1200mm roll of batts costs approximately £90 (rounded) including VAT and covers 12.96 m2 therefore approximate cost per square metre at 75mm depth is £7.

Lies, damn lies & statistics...
Don't agree? Know better? Got a real world example to share? Are you a manufacturer or supplier with something to say?
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Other Information
It’s has even made it into the Independant Newspapers Top 50 Great Ideas for the 21st Century

References:

http://www.sheepwoolinsulation.ie

http://www.secondnatureuk.com

http://www.blackmountaininsulation.com

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Insulation

Category: insulation July 15th, 2008 by mbc

insulation

From a full Passivhaus design to a simple loft conversion the effective use of insulation has never been more high profile. One of the key features of current renovation and new building design is the effective utilisation of insulation to minimise heating requirements. Whilst in the UK we historically tended to think of insulation in terms of carpeting lofts with fibre or pumping old newspapers into wall cavities, things have moved on.

In this series of articles, mbc will bring you an overview of the current technology and options that are available.

We’ll use four broad classifications for insulation materials:

Insulation manufactured from natural sustainable materials.
The most sustainable and therefore greenest category of insulators. Includes Sheep’s wool, Cork, Hemp and Straw-board.

Insulation manufactured from waste materials.
Closely on the heels of the sustainable materials come Wood fibreboard, Cellulose fibre and Foamed glass.

Insulation manufactured from natural materials.
These have been with us for sometime and use plentiful but finite resources and have production processes that lead to products with high embodied energy. Glass fibre & Mineral wool insulations fall within this category.

Insulation manufactured from petrochemicals.
Expanded and Extruded Polystyrene, Phenolic foam, Polyurethane and Polyisocyanurate. Being derived from oil and with production processes that lead to products with high embodied energy these are the least green category of insulators.

[Update: bear in mind that these types of insulation can be very efficient and therefore repay the embodied energy more quickly than a less well specified, less efficient, seemingly greener alternative.]

As articles on each type of insulation are added links will open up from the article – keep checking back!

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Insulation ~ Expanded Polystyrene

Category: insulation July 6th, 2008 by mbc

Expanded Polystyrene insulation is made from small beads of polystyrene that are heated to expand them. To create boards, the beads are heated further to fuse the beads together. Boards are typical used in walls, roofs and floors. Polystyrene beads can be used as lose cavity fill in masonry walls.

Description
Lose or in boards we’re all familiar with the white, squashy polystyrene balls that form the basis of this type of insulation.

insulation

Features

  • Manufactured from petrochemicals so not sustainable and toxic when burnt.
  • High embodied energy.
  • Cheap.
  • Moisture tolerant and relatively durable.
  • Versatile and relatively easy to fit.

Performance
Typically has a thermal conductivity or K value in the range of 0.032 – 0.040 W/m.K. (Watts per meter Kelvin ~ lower value is a better result)

Lies, damn lies & statistics...
Don't agree? Know better? Got a real world example to share? Are you a manufacturer or supplier with something to say?
This isn't a one way street, we really want to hear from you so please comment below or have your say on the forum...
Great posts will be eligible from prizes from our forum competition!

Cost
At 100mm thickness cost should be between £4 & £5 a square metre.

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