State of the art XXI Century Insulation Materials

Choosing the best XXI Century energy‐efficient insulation material 

for your shipping container 

Everyone thought that we were done with Insulation materials, in the last post before this one, we just wrote about the more conventional ones, traditional insulation materials, such as cork, mineral wool, cellulose, polystyrene or polyurethane (PUR), that are capable of preserving energy to certain extents.
Thermal insulation materials are the simplest ways to decrease buildings heat loss.
When insulation materials are installed in the walls, floors, and roof of a building to prevent such heat loss, the insulation materials must be used according to their appropriate structural and thermal properties.
Research also indicates the use of non-traditional materials for insulation, such as wool‐hemp, date palm fiber, and phase‐change materials. However, supporting the required thermal levels in buildings often requires the increased thickness of these materials, which is not always feasible with respect to the material economy, transportation, and use.
Recent developments in the physics of construction materials have led to the creation of new building insulation materials that provide lower thermal conductivity rates than the traditional ones.
Click here to read The paper that reviews contemporary research on Vacuum Insulated panels (VIP) as a state‐of‐the‐art material for building insulation. The main components and physical principles of VIP performance are discussed. Finally, the review of VIPs available on the market and their performance is provided. © 2013 The Authors. International Journal of Energy Research published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Contemporary research mentions several types of such materials:
Gas‐filled panels (GFPs).
Polymer Skins.
Vacuum Insulation Panels (VIPs).
Even not all of them were discovered today, they are not largely promoted in the Construction Industry nor frequently used.

Gas‐filled panels (GFPs)

R-Value: The sealed exterior skins contain the gas-fill.
The panels are available with
air R-5.0
argon R-6.4
krypton. R-7.6
xenon R-11
A new gas-filled panel insulation material that consists of pockets of low-conductivity gas in a honeycomb foil substrate provides insulation levels as high at R-11 for inch-and-a-half-thick panels.
With their thermal conductivity down to 10 mW/m K, gas-filled panels (GFPs) are regarded as possible high performance thermal insulating solutions for building applications.

However, thermal conductivities of respectively 46 and 40 mW/m K have so far been achieved for prototype air-filled and argon-filled panels, values slightly higher than currently traditional building insulation materials. Compared to other high-performance thermal insulation materials and solutions, e.g. vacuum insulation panels (VIPs), the future of GFPs may, therefore, be questioned.
Nevertheless, the application of a low-conductive gas and reflective barriers may have a potential in the development of new high-performance thermal insulation materials.
Within this work, a state-of-the-art review is given on the knowledge of GFPs for building applications today.


Innovative Gas-Filled Panel Insulation


Innovative Gas-Filled Panel Insulation from Fi-Foil

Polymer Skin





Aerogel is a synthetic porous ultralight material derived from a gel, in which the liquid component for the gel has been replaced with a gas. 
The result is a solid with extremely low density and extremely low thermal conductivity.
Nicknames include: 
frozen smoke 
solid smoke
solid air
solid cloud 
blue smoke 
Owing to its translucent nature and the way light scatters in the material. Silica aerogels feel like fragile expanded polystyrene to the touch, while some polymer-based aerogels feel like rigid foams.
Aerogels can be made from a variety of chemical compounds.
Aerogel is not a single material with a set chemical formula; instead, the term is used to group all materials with a certain geometric structure.
Despite the name, aerogels are solid, rigid, and dry materials that do not resemble a gel in their physical properties: the name comes from the fact that they are made from gels.
Pressing softly on an aerogel typically does not leave even a minor mark. pressing more firmly will leave a permanent depression.
Pressing extremely firmly will cause a catastrophic breakdown in the sparse structure, causing it to shatter like glass (a property known as friability), although more modern variations do not suffer from this. Despite the fact that it is prone to shattering, it is very strong structurally. Its impressive load-bearing abilities are due to the dendritic microstructure, in which spherical particles of average size 2–5 nm are fused together into clusters.

These clusters form a three-dimensional highly porous structure of almost fractal chains, with pores just under 100 nm. The average size and density of the pores can be controlled during the manufacturing process.
Aerogel is a material that is 99.8% air.
Aerogels have a porous solid network that contains air pockets, with the air pockets taking up the majority of space within the material. 
The lack of solid material allows aerogel to be almost weightless.
Aerogels are good thermal insulators because they almost nullify two of the three methods of heat transfer conduction (they are mostly composed of insulating gas) and convection (the microstructure prevents net gas movement).

They are good conductive insulators because they are composed almost entirely of gases, which are very poor heat conductors. (Silica aerogel is an especially good insulator because silica is also a poor conductor of heat; a metallic or carbon aerogel, on the other hand, would be less effective.)
They are good convective inhibitors because air cannot circulate through the lattice.
Aerogels are poor radiative insulators because infrared radiation (which transfers heat) passes through them.
Aerogel materials exhibit the lowest thermal conductivities of any of the solid or porous materials.

This key property of the material leads to many applications including insulation for architectural purposes


R 20
Aerogels, Invented in 1931 by Dr. Samuel Kistler at the College of the Pacific in California, a product that has been in existence for more than 80 years.
Silica aerogel is a lightweight solid derived from gel in which the liquid component of the gel has been replaced with gas. When the liquid is removed, what remains is “puffed-up sand,” with up to 99% porosity.

The result is an extremely low density solid with several remarkable properties, most notably its effectiveness as a thermal insulator.
The solids in silica aerogels are poor conductors, consist of very small, three-dimensional, intertwined clusters that comprise only 3% of the volume.
Conduction through the solid is therefore very low.
The remaining 97% of the volume of aerogels is composed of air in extremely small nanopores.
The air has little room to move, inhibiting both convection and gas-phase conduction.
These characteristics make aerogels the world’s lowest density solid and most effective thermal insulator.

Aspen Aerogels


After many decades as a laboratory curiosity, Aspen Aerogels has successfully commercialized a technically and economically viable form of aerogel for industrial and building insulation uses.  
These developments represent the first application of the Aerogel Technology Platform based on silica aerogels.
Aspen Aerogels produces flexible aerogel insulation products that provide up to five times better thermal performance than competing materials while offering versatility, space savings, and easy handling.
Aspen Aerogels offers high-performance aerogel insulation blankets for both hot and cold service applications. Pyrogel®, Cryogel®, and Spaceloft® aerogel blanket insulation products have been widely used in industrial and building insulation markets for over a decade.
Their unique patented process integrates aerogel into a fiber-batting reinforcement to create flexible, resilient and durable aerogel blankets with superior insulating properties. 
The aerogel part of the high-performance insulation blankets is comprised of synthetic amorphous silica (SAS).

The other major ingredient in their products is a non-woven, needled batting comprised of either E-glass fibers or a blend of polyester (PET) fibers and E-glass fibers. 
Synthetic amorphous silica has been produced for more than 100 years for a variety of uses (adsorbents, fillers, anti-caking agents) and consumer products (toothpaste, cosmetics, food, animal feed).
The US EPA recently listed synthetic amorphous silica as a chemical on the Safer Chemical Ingredient List, part of the Safer Choice program.
The Safer Chemical Ingredients List (SCIL) is a list of chemical ingredients that the Safer Choice Program has evaluated and determined to be safer than traditional chemical ingredients.”

Aspen Aerogels

Ultra-Thin aerogel Insulation for thermal management applications

“Nanoporous aerogel materials can be formulated with various heat blocking additives to make incredibly efficient and effective thermal insulation. Aspen’s expertise in designing and manufacturing, thin and flexible aerogel composites has been brought to bear on a new line of insulation for highly demanding applications: Pyrogel AWI.
This product is manufactured in thicknesses as low as 0.7 mm thick with very tight thickness control and with a high degree of flexibility and conformability. Thermal Strip Insulation
Thermablok may be installed either on the exterior or interior side of the wall framing. Insulate the full length of framing members.
Apply to all wall, floor or ceiling framing edges: headers, footers, trusses, window and door frames, floor joist and roof rafters.
The thermal resistance as a function of temperature up to 650ºC is exceptional.
Aspen can manufacture this product at a small scale or customize thickness and formulation to meet your most demanding application environments.”

Aspen Aerogels



Aspen Aerogels

Vacuum insulation Panels (VIP), by The Authors. International Journal of Energy Research published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.© 2013

Polymeric Vacuum Insulation Spheres
Invention Reference Number… 201603841

Technology Summary

PVIS is unique in that it uses individual spheres to help reduce the risk of from puncture common building materials like nails and prevents the loss of airtightness while increasing thermal conduction
Our polymeric vacuum insulation spheres (PVIS) will be the most significant innovation in high-performing building insulation materials in decades.
PVIS will match the thermal performance of vacuum insulated panels of ~R35/in. while being substantially less susceptible to punctures and easier to install. Additionally, PVIS could be quickly installed in 4 ft x 8 ft boards or spray-applied as part of a membrane or foam. These boards and spray-applied components could be designed so that PVIS has a multifunctional use: serve as the heat, air and moisture barrier, which will decrease the number of installed materials, construction time, and labor cost.”

A Vacuum Insulation Panel consists of a rigid, highly-porous core material encased in a thin, gas-tight outer envelope. The envelope is evacuated and sealed to prevent outside gases from entering the panel. The combination of porous material and the vacuum results in an extremely high thermal resistance.
The net result is that an inch-thick vacuum insulation panel can provide a center-of-panel insulating value of R-25 or even more—compared with R-6 to R-7 for standard rigid foam insulation.
The key property of a vacuum is its pressure or how “hard” it is.
New research has identified vacuum insulation panels (VIPs) as highly efficient insulators for use in building construction.
They are reported to be several times more effective than conventional materials of similar thickness in terms of thermal conductivity.
Because of their smaller space requirement, VIPs maximize the internal usage area of buildings and so reduce the cost of construction.
There are however some obstacles that have hindered the application of VIPs, notably their high cost, susceptibility to perforation and the long‐term water and gas effects that worsen their performance.
This paper reviews contemporary research on VIP as a state‐of‐the‐art material for building insulation. The main components and physical principles of VIP performance are discussed.
Finally, the review of VIPs available on the market and their performance is provided. © 2013
The Authors. International Journal of Energy Research published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Thermal performance and service life of vacuum insulation panels with aerogel composite cores

“As a type of superfine thermal insulations, vacuum insulation panels (VIPs) have already been extensively applied in insulating refrigerators, cold storages and building envelopes. However, their thermal insulation performance becomes poor with the increase of internal pressure, which results in a short service life of 5–25 years for commonly used VIPs. To enhance their thermal performance and prolong their service life, VIPs with fiber felt/silica aerogel composite cores were prepared. The microstructure and thermal conductivity of the as-prepared core material were experimentally investigated. Based on the experimental results, theoretical models for predicting the thermal performance and service life of VIPs were firstly developed. By using the models the effects of aerogel density (50–200 kg m−3) and fiber content (0–20 vol.%) on the thermal performance and the service life of VIPs with aerogel composite cores were studied. The results indicated that a minimum insulation thickness with 5.6 mm was obtained by optimizing the fiber content for a maximum U-value of 0.6 W m−2 K−1 in accordance with the building efficiency standard of the cold area in China of the energy efficiency of public buildings (GB 50189-2015). Finally, the simultaneous effects of the aerogel density and fiber content on service life were further explored by using the service life contour. A long service life with over 50 years was achieved for VIPs with aerogel composite cores, which could promote their applications in building thermal insulation for energy efficiency.”




Vacuum Insulated Panel

Building Insulation & Cold Insulation vacuum insulated panel 

Thermal Visions is a world leader in research, development, and production of Vacuum Insulation Panels (VIP).
Introducing THRESHHOLDR 50

“THRESHHOLDR 50 is “The Next Step”in vacuum insulation. At 50 R/inch (Thermal Conductivity 0.020 BTU-in/ft²-hr-F or 2.88 mW/m-K), it is a leader in performance.  See the product datasheet for detailed information.  It can be purchased in thicknesses from 0.2 to 2.0 inches (5 mm to 51 mm) and from very small panels to very large panels (39 inches wide by 50 inches long or 1 meter wide by 1.27 meters long).
THRESHHOLD R 50vacuum insulation allows whole new opportunities in product design.  Its exceptional high thermal performance allows much thinner insulation (up to 7 times thinner than urethane foam) or much lower energy use and/or a combination of reduced thickness and reduced energy use.  
THRESHHOLD R 50can be ordered in virtually any thickness from 0.2 to 2.0 inches (5 mm to 51 mm) thick and from very small panels to panels that are 39 inches (1 meter) wide by 50 inches (1.27 meter) long.  Panels that are less than 0.5 inches (12.7 mm) thick can be bent to go around corners.  Because the panels are under vacuum, panels can not be cut or punctured.  Thermal Visions can help guide your design using THRESHHOLD R 50 to obtain the maximum performance and value.
THRESHHOLD can be used in all sorts of shipping containers from medical to food, to chemical reagents, etc. wherever longer delivery, less dry ice/phase change material, or reduced external dimensions are desired.
THRESHHOLD is used in shipping containers for Antarctic core samples to study environmental changes. It provides longer shipping capability.



THERMAL VISIONS THRESHHOLD™   30 x 48 x 1-inch panel

“A vacuum insulated panel (VIP) is a form of thermal insulation consisting of a nearly gas-tight enclosure surrounding a rigid core, from which the air has been evacuated. It is used in building construction to provide better insulation performance than conventional insulation materials.
Based on a typical value of 0.007 W/(m·K), the R-value of a typical 25 mm-thick VIP would be 3.5 m2·K/W (20 h·ft²·°F/BTU). To provide the same R-value, 154 mm of Rockwool or 84 mm of rigid polyurethane foam panel would be required.”

MG Materials

Vacuum Insulated Panel

Fiberglass Reinforced Thermoset (FRT) Skin

“The innovative fiberglass reinforced thermoset polymer (FRT) structural ‘skin’ is the most advanced engineered material available for structural wall panel applications. CPBS has combined the best, proven polyurethane foam core technologies with FRT skins to create the revolutionary Composite Structural Insulated Panel (C-SIP) and Composite Structural Insulated Sheathing (C-SIS) building products. The wall panel’s interior and exterior skins create far superior strength and energy efficiency while eliminating thermal transfer and dramatically reducing any air, water or vapor infiltration.”

Composite Panel Building Systems

RAY-CORE, INC. Insulated SIP Roof Panels and Wall Panels

“RAYCORE’s Structural Insulated Roof Panels and Insulated Wall Panels (SIPs) are NOT A SANDWICH PANEL SIP that consists of two sheets of OSB, glued to a solid foam core. 
RAY-CORE SIPs ™ is far superior – eliminating all the problems associated with traditional Sandwich Panel SIPs.  RAYCORE takes the proven structural reliability of studs, adds a state-of-the-art custom blend of closed-cell polyurethane foam insulation and wraps the panel with a foil radiant barrier to combine these three technologies into one strong, lightweight, structurally sound, labor-saving and easy to use insulated SIP roof panel, insulated wall panel, and insulated header framing panel system.  So easy to use, even a DIY do-it-yourselfer can build with RAY-CORE SIPs ™!”



RAYCORE Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) – Over 30 years of manufacturing superior structural insulated panels, RAY CORE offers a lifetime warranty on all their SIP products.

RAYCORE Polyurethane Foam

“This state-of-the-art custom blend of high-density closed-cell polyurethane foam not only produces some of the highest R-values available, but it also has a low perm rate and will not retain or allow moisture to pass through it, so no problems with condensation or mold and mildew. 
It also ensures an airtight structure. 
Further, it produces all of these benefits while maintaining a Class 1 Fire Rated standard. 
Class 1 means that the foam will not sustain a flame. 
Far, far superior to polystyrene foam, RAYCORE’s quality control standards will not settle for less.”


Foil Radiant Barrier

“The paper-thin high-tech foil radiant vapor barrier is similar to an emergency heat blanket, helps to reflect the outside temperatures out and the inside temperatures in on any structure.”


RAYCORE Insulated Wall Panels & Roof Panels Studs Configuration


Only RAY CORE combines these advanced technologies into one energy-saving SIP panel.

Is There a Place for Vacuum Insulation in our Buildings?
ask BuildingGreen in their blog post

Microtherm’s vacuum insulation panel, with a microporous substrate covered with an impermeable aluminum skin

An Ultralow Thermal Conductivity Material

“Hollow particle-based insulation material will have R-values approximately 2.25 times higher than that of conventional insulation materials such as polyurethane or polyisocyanurate foam boards.
Therefore, a much thinner layer of the material will achieve the same level of insulating value as that of a much thicker layer of the available insulation materials, which enables easier retrofitting of buildings where space is limited.
Superior robustness of the hollow particle-based material compared to the state-of-the-art insulation materials, such as aerogels and vacuum insulation panels, will also improve the ease of handling and installation, while lower costs will make it a more affordable option for American households.”

Oak Ridge National Laboratory – Oak Ridge, TN