New Insulation Products Aim at Niche Markets
Although traditional means of insulation still firmly control the building market, several new products aim to challenge the status quo. Are they fads or forerunners?
This sheet product has been pitched as a way to achieve relatively high R-values in a thinner continuous insulation product. It’s not a new technology, but rather a re-introduction of vacuum insulation paneling, similar to material used to insulate refrigerators. The core consists of “fused silica” and is not flammable.
Vacuum insulation panels are not new…they are used in many refrigerator designs. The core is a “fused silica” that is not flammable. Only the outer wrapping burns. Looking through the specifications of the product, the service temperature of the product is much narrower than, say, mineral wool continuous insulation. It’s suitable for for use in temperatures of –40 to +176°F / –40 to +80°C.
The material is not inexpensive. A Dow-Corning brand goes for $10 to $12 per square foot. A new process being tested could greatly reduce that cost.
Designed for use on low pitch (primarily commercial) roofs, this product combines insulation and coverboard in one system, aiming squarely at the challenge of reducing total labor hours.
According to Rockwool, Multifix offers the additional advantage of being dimensionally stable in high heat, reducing thermal transfer to and from the building and having a high fire rating. It has a fiberglass layer on top of the coverboard that enables various types of roofing to adhere to the material.
This new product aims at the commercial market as a passive way to meet NFPA 13 fire resistance in commercial buildings, when installed as instructed. The company describes the product as “an alternative solution to sprinklers in the interstitial space.” This is still a fiberglass product, not mineral wool, however. It’s touted as “formaldehyde-free” as well.
It’s not clear from the specs what makes Cavity-SHIELD different from other fiberglass products, presumably something in the “thermosetting resin” that lends itself to high heat resistance. It’s a fairly typical approach to product advancement by Johns Manville, which in our experience has always been among the most conservative in the fiberglass insulation field.
Now partnering with Owens-Corning, Aeroseal has earned a lot of press for its new air sealing system called AeroBarrier. It might be descrbed as an infiltration finishing system. After fiberglass or other products are installed in a structure, a blower-door type technology is used to pull self-hardening sealant through any remaining cracks and gaps, greatly reducing leakage in the envelope.
According to the company, “The two-step installation takes less than four hours, beginning with PINK® Fiberglas™ or Blown-in Insulation to local code requirements in conjunction with the AeroBarrier self-guided solution minimizing interruptions to the job site. AeroBarrier can be applied at the rough-in stage or after drywall is completed and before finishing to ensure all pipe and electrical penetrations are sealed as the aerosol particles automatically seek out and find air gaps and holes in the pressurized envelope.”