Malaysia's Cold Chain Industry Guide


6 Types of Insulated Building Materials You Must Know

Cold Room And Cold Truck Related Services July 12, 2022


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When deciding on which insulating material to use for a building or warehouse, businesses and its builders have several options. Using insulating materials can produce thermal insulation, saving money by saving energy.

It allows you to regulate the temperature in your warehouses, reducing heat transfer between two objects of different temperatures, such as the warehouse and its surrounding environment. For thermal insulation to occur, many materials limit heat convection, conduction, radiation, or a combination of the three

Here are the 6 types of insulated building materials you must know.

1. Fibreglass 

Fiberglass is a popular insulation material made by weaving fine strands of glass together, which effectively reduces heat transfer into insulation material. It is primarily recycled glass, is noncombustible, and does not absorb moisture. R-values of fibreglass can range from R-2.9 to R-3.8 per inch and are considered environment-friendly compared to other insulation materials. 

The most common type of fibreglass insulation is batts, blankets, and rolls, which are all rectangular sections of material. Because of their standard widths and thicknesses, they are simple to handle and install between studs and joists. Unfinished floors, ceilings, and walls are general applications for batts and blankets.

2. Mineral Wool

Mineral wool has a variety of uses for insulation applications. It could refer to glass wool, fibreglass made from recycled glass, or rock wool, an insulation material made from basalt. Mineral wool is available in batts or as a loose material. The R-value of this environmentally friendly insulation material ranges from R-2.8 to R-3.5. Most mineral wool contains no additives that make it fire resistant, making it unsuitable for use in situations involving extreme heat.

Mineral wool provides numerous benefits to commercial buildings aside from its exceptional fire resistance. As continuous insulation, it is an excellent liquid and vapour absorbent, improves acoustic performance and contributes to sustainability goals.

3. Cellulose

Cellulose is a very environmentally friendly type of insulation. Cellulose is a loose material made from recycled cardboard, paper, and similar materials. With an R-value between R-3.1 and R-3.7, cellulose contains almost no oxygen, making it a pioneer in reducing fire damage. It makes it both eco-friendly and fire-resistant in construction. 

It is also particularly effective at tightly packing walls, increasing energy efficiency by reducing air pockets. It's an excellent choice for many difficult areas to insulate with other products, such as pipes and wiring.

4. Polystyrene

Polystyrene is a thermoplastic that is colourless and transparent and is available in various forms, including moulded expanded polystyrene (MEPS), expanded polystyrene (EPS) and extruded polystyrene (XPS), also known as styrofoam. The more costly XEPS has an R-value of R-5.5 while EPS is R-4. Polystyrene insulation has a uniquely smooth surface when compared to other materials.

There are no tiny voids or gaps between the cells of XPS foam insulation. It reduces heat transfer while making it highly resistant to water absorption and water vapour transmission, allowing it to maintain low thermal conductivity even in a large amount of water. The moisture-resistant properties of XPS foam are widely used for cold storage applications because these interior spaces tend to have more moisture and condensation.

5. Polyisocyanurate / Polyurethane foam (PIR/PUR) 

Polyurethane insulation (PUR) comes in liquid sprayed foam or rigid foam board. It can also form into laminated insulation panels with various facings. Polyisocyanurate (PIR) is a thermoset plastic typically manufactured as foam and used as rigid thermal insulation.

The main difference between PUR and PIR is its notable distinguishing feature is its resistance to flame and smoke. PIR slows the spread of fire and reduces smoke emitted by the fire. Because it is energy efficient, durable, and lightweight, rigid polyurethane foam insulation is one of the most commonly used materials in the cold chain, from production to a commercial fridge or freezer. 

6. Phenolic Foam (available in boards)

Phenolic foam is a versatile material used in various applications that require thermal performance, moisture resistance, and fire resistance.

Phenolic foam is primarily a closed-cell material. When closed-cell phenolic insulation combines with a vapour barrier, the permeability rating can be nearly 0.0, making it an ideal target for applications like chilled water where condensation is a concern. It is essential for a cold chain as vapour barriers are placed on the cold storage's hot side to prevent moisture migration and protect the insulation from moisture condensation.

In summary

When deciding on the best thermal insulation material for your application, consider the pros and cons of each material, their cost, R-value, and goods stored in your warehouse.

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