Characterizing the Performance of Traditional and Novel Insulation Materials

Join C-Therm intern Levi Burtt in reviewing application of C-Therm’s patented technology in accelerated characterization of both traditional and novel insulation materials.   Learn how the Modified Transient Plane Source (MTPS) method developed by C-Therm is employed at research facilities all over the world for characterizing critical performance aspects of insulation materials.   The MTPS method provides a number of advantaged over traditional stead-state techniques in that measurements take a few short seconds, the single-sided sensor only requires interface with one side of the sample and the sensor is optimized for additionally testing powders and loose fill material (e.g. aerogel)

In all cases, the effective thermal conductivity of the following insulation materials and additives is considered a critical performance attribute in the application;

Glass wool is an insulating material made from fibres of glass arranged using a binder into a texture similar to wool. The process traps many small pockets of air between the glass, and these small air pockets result in high thermal insulation properties.

Ceramic insulations are very porous yet rigid – which makes them one of the few insulations that can also provide structural support. Most ceramic foams are made using a foaming agent which creates the pores within the ceramic foam during casting. Ceramic foams can also be produced using recycled materials, which makes them a green alternative to petroleum-based insulations.

Aerogels are a class of ultralight, porous materials, typically derived from a gel. In an aerogel, the liquid component of the gel has been replaced by a gas (typically air). Owing to the very light nature of most aerogels, most aerogel samples have a translucent, blueish appearance. Porosity of aerogels is generally in the excess of 98% (meaning the >98% of an aerogel’s volume is pore volume). Aerogels are known for their extremely low thermal conductivity, which is often lower than that of air. In this respect, the thermal conductivity of an aerogel material is typically identified as a critical performance specification. This low thermal conductivity makes aerogel materials exciting in the field of insulation research, where engineers are continually looking to improve energy efficiency without adding excessive weight.

Bio-based insulation materials, traditionally employed in clothing and textile applications using furs and downs, are seeing increasing use in less-traditional applications – and with less-traditional materials. Scientists and engineers in the field of sustainable deign engineering continuously push to create sustainable materials which do not sacrifice performance relative to less sustainable, often petroleum-based solutions. To that end, biopolymers are being employed to generate bio-based foam insulations, while materials like bamboo are being explored for their application as an insulation. In all cases, the thermal conductivity is a key performance metric of these materials.

Finally, we will look at phase change materials (PCM), which are widely used in energy-efficient initiatives for Thermal Energy Storage (TES). PCMs are interesting because they store the thermal energy of a phase change, called the “latent” heat of phase change, on heating, and then when cooled they can give off the stored heat by reversing the phase change. This phenomenon may be used to moderate daytime temperature variations in a housing environment.  We’ll look at recent published works incorporating PCMs into insulation materials. 

This webinar will be of particular interest to engineers, materials science researchers and quality control personnel focused on characterizing the insulation quality of materials.

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