Sustainability: Polyurethane Products and Benefits
Structural Insulated Panels
SIPs are engineered panels made of a thick layer of polyurethane or polyiso foam sandwiched between two layers of oriented strand board, plywood or fiber-cement. SIPs are used throughout a building: the framing, flooring, ceilings and roofs and as a single-piece exterior sheathing.
As the name implies, SIPs provide both structural support and incredible insulating properties, with numerous benefits:
- Simplicity and elegance in a single-piece design
- Ability to withstand high winds and seismic forces
- Efficient thermal performance that can reduce energy usage
- A dense, continuous air barrier for effective insulation properties with high R-value
- Ability to customize sizes for increased design flexibility
- Easy handling of smaller lightweight panels that can be installed by one person
- Ease of assembly at the building site, creating shorter construction schedules
- Additional structural strength across the entire breadth of the panel
Rigid polyurethane foam is increasingly used to insulate and protect pipes and pipelines. Polyurethane foam today is utilized for oil and gas pipelines, heating and plumbing pipes for power plants and chemical facilities, and pipelines at dairy factories—even swimming pool pipelines.
The widespread use of rigid polyurethane foam in pipe and pipeline insulation is based on many benefits. It can:
- Reduce the loss of heat to conserve energy
- Stand up to extreme cold and intense heat
- Help control surface temperatures of pipelines to protect workers
- Help maintain proper temperature control for sensitive manufacturing processes
- Help to prevent condensation on cold surfaces
- Reduce or prevent equipment damage resulting from fire-stop systems
- Creates a sound barrier to control noise
- Possesses tremendous mechanical strength
Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF)
Spray polyurethane foam is produced from a mixture of fast reacting foam forming ingredients combined in a special mixing spray gun at the moment of application. Foam density can be varied to suit particular applications and may be applied to almost any substrate that is clean, dry, and free of scale or dust. The reaction quickly achieves full rise and a tack-free surface and also acts as a sealant. The foam may be protected with another coating, such as an ignition or weather barrier. SPF is used for wall and roof insulation in commercial, industrial, agricultural and residential settings, as well as for industrial pipe insulation, cold storage rooms and marine flotation devices.
The distinctive technology of SPF offers unique benefits:
- High R-values—up to 7 per inch—thereby working to reduce energy costs
- "Closed-cell" SPF serves as both an air barrier and a Class II vapor retarder
- SPF retards air transfer, minimizing air infiltration and the noise, pollutants and pollen that often infiltrate buildings
- It can be applied to difficult to reach or architecturally complicated structure features, such as cathedral ceilings, thereby helping to increase building design creativity
- Some SPFs help control moisture and condensation and reduce the growth of mold and mildew
- Some SPFs add structural strength and actually can help a building withstand high winds and hurricanes
Polyiso is commonly used in the construction of hospitals, warehouses, retail stores, schools, manufacturing facilities, and residential homes. On an inch-by-inch bases, polyiso is one of the most energy-efficient insulation products on the market. Due to its high R-value and thin profile, polyiso allows builders to use less insulation and to create thinner walls and roofs.
Polysio offers unique benefits:
- Polyiso has a high R-value per inch of thickness
- Polyiso repels water and is moisture resistant
- Polyiso is resistant to solvents such as construction adhesives
- Polyiso insulates buildings in a wide range of temperatures
- Polyiso is readily available nationwide
PU Insulated Sheathing
Typically composed of polyiso foam sandwiched between reinforced aluminum foil, insulated sheathing can cut down on a building's energy loss, particularly in the walls. Typical wood or steel studs in walls and roofs create a "thermal bridge" that allows hot or cold air to pass into the building. Insulated sheathing works to reduce that energy loss. In fact, many building codes now require continuous insulation on the building exterior. Insulated foam sheathing is widely applied to walls and some roofing applications in new commercial, residential, agricultural and industrial buildings, as well as during renovation of existing buildings to improve thermal performance.
Insulated sheathing is applied to studs, sills, plates and header construction, as well as to concrete/masonry walls, resulting in a host of benefits:
- Sheathing helps control air infiltration by forming a tight seal
- Since there are no studs, the entire wall is insulated to help control heat flow
- Sheathing is a water-resistive barrier and does not need to be covered with "housewrap"
- Mold and mildew are reduced or prevented because sheathing helps control water vapor flow and condensation
- Sheathing can be used with a variety of braces, which expands design opportunities and adds strength and rigidity to the building