When the supply of energy in buildings started to become widely available, people were able to heat their homes easily and affordably, so insulating a house became less important than it had been previously. However, as a result of increased energy costs and environmental concerns, insulation has again become a priority in homes, offices and public buildings to make important savings.
Insulation materials and rigid panels play a critical role in efforts made by governments to meet global, regional and national energy efficiency targets. Polystyrene insulation foams, for example, are crucial in ensuring the implementation of the EU Directive on energy performance in buildings (2002/91/EC). However, like the foams used in upholstered furniture, building insulation foams also carry the risk of being highly flammable.
The main purpose of insulation is to limit the transfer of energy between the inside and outside of a building. Thermal resistance, or the ‘R-value’ of a material, is important as it measures the insulation capacity of the material. The higher the R-value, the more effective the material.
Types of insulating materials in use today, include expanded and extruded polystyrene foams, rigid polyurethane foam, glass wool, rock wool or cellulosic fibres. Due to their combination of performance and relatively low cost, polystyrene and polyurethane foam panels rank amongst the most popular choices for insulation.
They consist of large sheets of plastic foam and can be used in most areas of a building. It is inserted between studs on interior walls as well as over concrete walls to insulate basements. It is also used to insulate ceilings and roofs.
Most insurance companies will only provide insurance at construction sites if these are protected through the use of flame retardants. Brominated flame retardants are widely used here.
Indeed, the role of flame retardants is crucial at the construction stage, where the highly flammable insulation materials are most exposed to the risk of fire. Typical requirements for rigid foam:
Efficient Flame Retardancy
Low viscosity for easier process ability
Good green strength particularly in sandwich materials
Low influence on foaming process