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Introduction

The polymeric material used to manufacture EPS is received in the form of small beads ranging from 0.5 to 1.3mm in diameter. These small beads are formulated and manufactured to contain a small percentage of the naturally occurring gas pentane.

This gas is impregnated throughout the body of each small bead. The pre-expansion phase of manufacturing is the swelling of the small bead to almost 50 times its original size through the heating and rapid release of the gas from the bead during its glass transition phase.

Steam is introduced into the vessel and an agitator mixes the expanding beads as the heat in the steam causes the pentane to expand and be released from the beads.

The expanded beads are released into a fluid bed dryer and all condensed steam moisture is dried from the surface, the pre-expansion is then complete.

After the expanded beads have been dried, they are blown into large open storage bags for the aging process. The beads have been under a dynamic physical transformation that has left them with an internal vacuum in the millions of cells created.

This vacuum must be equalized to atmospheric pressure; otherwise this delicate balance may result in the collapse or implosion of the bead. This process of aging the expanded beads allows them to fill back up with air and equalize. This aging can take from 12 hours to 48 hours, depending on the desired expanded density of the bead.

 

ThermaBead Thermal Testing

All insulation products have a degree of intrinsic inconsistency in thermal conductivity. The thermal conductivity of insulation will depend on the quality of materials and the consistency of the applied manufacturing process.

In line with European product standards and declaration methods we take thermal conductivity results from both our internal laboratory and UKAS appointed external laboratories. These results are analysed and give a lambda 90/90 value. The statistical process ensures that the declared thermal conductivity value relates to 90% of production with a confidence level of 90%. Using both our internal and UKAS approved Heat Flow equipment the final value is rounded up to the nearest 0.001W.-m-1.k-1. This rounded value is the “declared value” used as a design value to represent a performance figure over a 25 year lifespan.

Based on EN13162 and EN13171 the declared method of thermal conductivity is intended to establish a level European playing field for all insulation materials.