Last edited 15 Dec 2014

Phenolic foam insulation

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Phenolic foam is considered one of the best material for thermal insulation.

  • It has over 90% closed cell formation, giving it good stability.
  • Phenolic foams come in varying densities in the range of 35 kg/m³ to 200 kg/m³. High density varieties such as insulation boards have good strength and are suitable for floor insulation.
  • It has low thermal conductivity. The thermal conductivity of phenolic closed cell insulation material is generally between 0.018 W/m.K and 0.023 W/m.K.
  • It has fire retardant properties and a low smoke level (even under pyrolysis).
  • It is water resistant.
  • It is lightweight and so is easy to transport and install.
  • Closed cell phenolic insulation foam can resist almost all inorganic acidic erosion, organic solvents and acids. However, it under-performs in alkaline environments.
  • When exposed to sunlight for long periods it does not show any noticeable ageing.
  • Insulation boards show good sound absorption properties.

The most common blowing agent used in phenolic foam insulation is ‘Pentane’. This is used to comply with EC regulation, because it is CFC and HCFC free, has no ozone depletion potential and low global warming potential. Pentane is a hydrocarbon. In order to prevent the blowing agent escaping and being replaced by air, the insulation boards are covered with gas tight aluminium foil or glass tissue.

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