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MEEF - Articles - Rockwool (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) previous page

Thermal insulation for heat retention

Uses - Thermal InsulationIt comes as no surprise that well-insulated buildings consume considerably less energy for heating.

Roughly 40% of energy used in Europe today is for space heating in buildings. This is a significant cost for households and businesses. It uses scarce energy resources and contributes to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions that are important factors in global warming.

Well-insulated buildings consume considerably less heat energy. Not only can mineral wool help to considerably decrease heating bills but it can also help to make an important contribution to reducing European greenhouse gas emissions.

Better insulation warms the home - not the planet. Thus the intelligent, forward-looking use of energy is dependent on the optimum use of thermal insulation.

Often the costs of installing suitable thermal insulation will have been paid off in the form of lower utility bills within a few months. The average energy 'payback' of a building insulated to recommended standards is from 1 to 12 months. 450 million tonnes of CO2 could be saved annually through thermal insulation and practical energy savings.

 Thermal Insulation for Low Temperatures

Uses - Thermal InsulationKeeping heat out and maintaining low temperatures is just as vital a role for effective insulation as heat retention. Indeed many of today's industrial processes can only be carried out in controlled cold environments. But generating low temperatures is even more costly than producing heat. A lot of storage takes place at low temperatures and a lot of insulation is used for this.
Increasingly important within Europe is the role of mineral wool in insulating air conditioned, cooled space applications within office and commercial environments.

Meeting the demand for thermal insulation for low temperatures has been perhaps the single most important driving force behind the continuing technological development of insulating materials. Products using mineral wool have consistently proved to be the most cost effective solution.

 The basics of heat transfer

Uses - Thermal Insulation


The principles of heat transfer help to understand how insulation works. Heat flows from warm to colder surfaces until the temperature of both is equal.


These flows can take three forms:

  • conduction

  • convection

  • radiation

Conduction :

    Conduction is the direct transfer of heat between adjoining molecules. A warmer molecule transfers some of its energy to colder neighbours. A good example is when one sits down on a cold metal chair, one can feel the cold from the chair as heat from the warmer body is quickly transferred by conduction to the chair.

Convection :

    Convection is the transfer of heat through liquids and gases. An example is warm air rising from a hot surface and being replaced by cooler and denser air that sinks. Heat is carried away from the surface by the warm air.

Radiation :

    Radiation is the transmission of energy through space by electromagnetic waves. Radiated heat moves at the speed of light through the air without heating the space between, just as one feels the warmth of the sun on one's face, heat radiates from the sun to earth without heating the space between.

Mineral wool thermal insulation prevents convection by holding air still in the matrix of the wool. Still air is a good insulator. Mineral wool also stops radiation and limits the conduction of heat through the body of the insulation. The effectiveness of the mineral wool in reducing heat transfer depends upon its structural properties such as density, thickness, composition and the fineness of the wool as well as the temperature at which it is used.

The heat transfer through insulation is a combination of solid and gas conduction, convection and radiation. This gives a thermal conductivity versus density characteristic which is non-linear and has a minimum.

How well a material transmits heat through itself is known as thermal conductivity.

Thermal conductivity, l, (lambda, measured in watts per meter per degrees Kelvin, W/mK) of a material represents the quantity of heat that passes through a meter thickness per square meter per time unit with one degree difference in temperature between the faces.

The Lambda value compares the ability of materials to transmit heat through them under these fixed conditions. The lower the lambda value the better the insulator the material will be. (Lambda values of typical materials are for example, Copper 380 W/mK, Aluminium 210 W/mK; Steel 46 W/mK; Wood 0.21 W/mK; Mineral wool 0.045 W/mK; Air 0.026 W/mK).

For construction purposes a material is defined as insulating if it's thermal conductivity is less than 0.065 W/mK. A typical mineral wool has l of 0.035-0.040.

The insulation capacity of the mineral wool products is based on the low thermal conductivity of air in the pockets of the wool material.

Thermal resistance or R value, is a measure of the ability of a given thickness of a material to prevent the passage of heat. The thermal resistance, R, of a material with thickness, d (meters) and thermal conductivity, l, is equal to R= d/l (Units are square meters degrees Kelvin per Watt (m2K/W).

Thermal resistance, R, is the inverse of the coefficient of thermal transmission whilst thermal conductivity is an inherent property of a material.




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