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INSULATION INSPECTION & IMPROVEMENT
ACOUSTICAL SEALANT CHOICES
AIR LEAK MINIMIZATION
ASBESTOS IDENTIFICATION IN BUILDINGS
BASEMENT CEILING VAPOR BARRIER
BASEMENT HEAT LOSS
BUCKLED FOUNDATIONS due to INSULATION?
CATHEDRAL CEILING INSULATION
CATHEDRAL CEILING VENTILATION
CEILINGS, DROP or SUSPENDED PANEL
DEW POINT TABLE - CONDENSATION POINT
DUCT INSULATION, ASBESTOS PAPER
FIBERGLASS PARTICLE CONTAMINATION
Fiberboard Insulation Sheathing Mold
FIBERGLASS INSULATION MOLD
FIREPROOFING ASBESTOS SPRAY-ON
FRAMING DETAILS for BETTER INSULATION
FRAMING DETAILS for DOUBLE WALL HOUSES
FRAMING METAL STUD PERFORMANCE
FREEZE-PROOF A BUILDING
HEAT LOSS in BUILDINGS
HEAT LOSS PREVENTION PRIORITIES
HEAT LOSS R U & K VALUE CALCULATION
HOUSEWRAP AIR & VAPOR BARRIERS
HOUSE DOCTOR, how-to be
HUMIDITY LEVEL TARGET
ICE DAM PREVENTION
INSULATION AIR & HEAT LEAKS
INDOOR AIR QUALITY & HOUSE TIGHTNESS
INSULATION FACT SHEET- DOE
INSULATION INSPECTION & IMPROVEMENT
INSULATION R-Values & Properties
LEED GREEN BUILDING CERTIFICATION
LOG HOME ENERGY EFFICIENCY
MOLD in FOAM INSULATION, RESISTANCE
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
NOISE / SOUND DIAGNOSIS & CURE
RIGID FOAM USE INDOORS
SHEATHING, FOIL FACED - VENTS
SLAB INSULATION, PASSIVE SOLAR
STAINS on & in BUILDINGS, CAUSES & CURES
STRAW BALE CONSTRUCTION
STUCCO WALL METHODS & INSTALLATION
STUCCO OVER FOAM INSULATION
SWEATING (CONDENSATION) on PIPES, TANKS
Thermal Expansion Cracking of Brick
THERMAL IMAGING, THERMOGRAPHY
THERMAL MASS in BUILDINGS
THERMAL TRACKING Indicates Heat Loss
TRUSS UPLIFT, ROOF
VAPOR BARRIERS & CONDENSATION in BUILDINGS
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
WALL CONSTRUCTION BARRIER vs CAVITY
WIND WASHING INSULATION At EAVES
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
Ceramic building insulation for super high R-values: this article discusses the use in buildings of ceramic insulation, a variation on perlite insulation material produced by superheating.
Sketch at page top and accompanying text are reprinted/adapted/excerpted with permission from Solar Age Magazine - editor Steven Bliss. Contact us to suggest text changes and additions and, if you wish, to receive online listing and credit for that contribution.
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Information on Ceramic Insulation Products for Buildings
We are about to re insulate our cathedral ceiling and have only the 2 1/2-inch dept of the purlins for insulation space. In September 1980 Popular Mechanics had an article on a ceramic insulation that claimed an R-value equivalent to 70 for 3 inches of thickness. Do you have any evaluation of this product? - Peter Slavish, New Hope PA
The ceramic insulation written up in the Popular Mechanics article is a variation on Perlite Insulation, an insulation that has been around for years. Perlite is made by heating silica ore to 1600 degF, causing it to expand. The ASHRAE Handbook of Fundamentals says expanded perlite with a density of 5 to 8 pounds per cubic foot has an R-value of 2.7 per inch. [See INSULATION R-Values & Properties].
P.D.I. St. Anne, IL, the manufacturer of the ceramic insulation discussed back in 1980 has patented a process for coating the perlite. The firm claims this boosts its equivalent R-value "in the radiant mode" into the R-70 range. A vented attic space and moving air above the insulation layer are needed for it to work. If the ceramic insulation is placed in a sealed space with no air circulation above it, P.D.I. says its R-value drops back to the "conductive" R value of 2.7 per inch.
In 1985 Solar Age contacted Oak Ridge National Lab in Oak Ridge, TN, for an expert opinion about ceramic insulation based on perlite. The lab's David McElroy said that thermal tests on ceramic insulation "indicate the material behaves very much like perlite, and does not have the high thermal resistance the manufacturers claim."
Oak ridge had insulation makes with accurate test facilities test the ceramic insulation. Their results came in at or below the Oak Ridge levels. National Research Council of Canada also confirmed these findings. Asked if the "radiant mode" explanation sounded plausible, McElroy said "No."
Current High-R Building Insulation Products for Super Insulated Buildings
The high-R insulating panel building products currently in most common use are POLYSTYRENE FOAM INSULATION and POLYISOCYANURATE FOAM INSULATION panels and also polyurethane spray foam (URETHANE FOAM Deterioration, Outgassing). These materials have a typical R-value of about R-5 to R-6 per inch, though when installed with a radiant surface (that might help) and a 3/4" air gap, the R-value is increased substantially - as we detail below. Fiberglass batts, which are still most-widely used in residential construction, are about R-3 per inch.
Here are some currently-available high-R building insulation products as well as some specialty very high-R insulation materials:
Here we include solar energy, solar heating, solar hot water, and related building energy efficiency improvement articles reprinted/adapted/excerpted with permission from Solar Age Magazine - editor Steven Bliss.
Original Solar Age Magazine article on ceramic insulation
The link to the original Q&A article in PDF form immediately below is preceded by an expanded/updated online version of this article found above.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about ceramic building insulation
Questions & answers or comments about using super high-R value ceramic insulation in buildings
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Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.