To enhance the thermal performance of phenolic insulation products, some manufacturing companies use low thermal conductivity gases such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) as the blowing agent to fill cell structures. Gas is used as it is a good insulator, can resist heat better than solids and performs better than air.
These gases can be released into the atmosphere during the production of insulation, through transit or after the product is discontinued. When discharged they destroy the ozone layer and lead to increased UV radiation and greenhouse gas emissions.
This process of ozone depletion has already caused significant damage to the ozone layer. The use of CFC’s and HCFC’s have been banned since 2010; however, it continues to be used in the manufacturing process of Chinese plastic insulation foams.
It is important to understand the difference between open and closed cell structures when comparing different phenolic solid foam insulation panels, as performance characteristics vary. Within a closed cell foam structure, the blowing agent cannot escape and moisture cannot enter. An open cell foam has small holes in the cells walls, allowing for some of the blowing agent to escape and be replaced by air, causing the thermal performance to half over time. Read more on open and closed cell phenolic foams here.
Kingspan Insulation manufactures two closed cell, high performance rigid thermoset insulation ranges, Kingspan Kooltherm and Kingspan Therma. As both product ranges are manufactured using a premium CFC / HCFC-free blowing agent, they are able to provide reliable long term thermal performance without depleting the ozone layer.