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Why Is Styrofoam a Good Insulator?


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When its cold out, we cover ourselves in layers of clothing. Each layer of clothing traps air and reduce the amount of lost heat energy. The thicker layers you wear better will be the insulation. Likewise, all the objects behave the same way.

Polystyrene is made of air mostly. Its internal structure comprises trapped air bubbles which restrict the heat flow. From huge buildings to your daily coffee, styrofoam functions the same. Polystyrene insulation is one of the most commonly used insulations used these days. When insulation is considered, polystyrene refers to foamed polystyrene, either as expanded polystyrene or extruded polystyrene.

Expanded polystyrene is the kind of EPS that is found in packing foam pellets and extruded polystyrene is a more rigid set foam which is most commonly used for something like architectural models. Commonly foamed polystyrene is called as Styrofoam.

How Insulation Works?

Insulation works because of the airspace.

Heat flow involves three major mechanisms, conduction, convection, and radiation. Conduction is the way heat moves through materials. Convection is the way heat circulates through liquids and gases. Radiant heat travels in a straight line and heats anything solid in its path that absorbs its energy.

heat transfer

Insulation work by slowing the conductive and convective heat flow. Radiant barriers and reflective insulation systems work by lessening radiant heat gain. Insulation works by stopping the transfer of heat from one object to another.

Conduction and convection involve particles, but radiation involves electromagnetic waves.

How Styrofoam insulates?

Styrofoam is about 98% air. It traps the air in its small pockets. Styrofoam has millions of small air bubbles trapped inside the foam. Since air is a bad conductor of heat Styrofoam efficiently prevents heat transfer. Air is a mixture of gases, and it is not a good conductor or a radiator. Air is fine at convection, but the heat transfer is minimal because the low mass can’t store much amount of heat. Thus it blocks the flow of the heat energy. Styrofoam reduces conduction and convection. In this way, it is one of the best existing insulators.

Insulation using polystyrene: Major applications

  • Roof and floor
  • Wall and basement
  • Insulating concrete forms (ICF)
  • Exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS)
  • Acoustic and sound impact

NPPF logo wideNPPF is a company driven by innovation. We are proud to say that we are serving United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) and Gulf Cooperation Council (G.C.C.) market since 1994 with excellent success. Through continuous upgrading of facilities and applying “state of the art technologies” we are now one of the biggest EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) manufacturers in the Middle East.