Insulation Against Climate Change

Insulating materials based on two major Shell Chemicals – Styrene polyether polyols – are helping to provide innovative solutions that help reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.
Savings from the use of these insulation materials are well above the energy consumed in its production.

Polyurethane foams significantly reduce the energy needed to keep buildings warm or cool.
With buildings is estimated that approximately 40% of energy consumption worldwide, the potential contribution of effective insulation of the energy in our homes and offices – and therefore to reduce CO2 emissions – is significant.
Shell Chemicals is a leading supplier of raw materials used to make two of the most effective and versatile insulation materials available. The thermal performance of expanded polystyrene (EPS) from styrene foam, and rigid polyurethane (PU) foam polyester polyols, provides architects, designers and builders, with an increasing range of options for creating sustainable buildings that help reduce energy costs and CO2 emissions.

Savings from the use of these insulation materials are well above the energy consumed in its production, which for a typical house can be retrieved in just one year. Thanks to the durability of these products, energy savings continue to be delivered during the lifetime of the building.
The versatility of polyurethane foams and EPS means it can be used in almost all parts of a building – and foundations and walls, floors and the ceiling. Increasingly, they are combined with conventional building materials to create complete solutions for structural insulation.
Rigid polyurethane foam is one of the best insulation materials. Its extremely low thermal conductivity provides high levels of insulation for construction or renovation of buildings, significantly reducing the energy needed to keep warm or cold.
Its closed cell structure and encapsulated insulation gas offers unparalleled performance at the highest level of isolation is necessary, or when the thickness of insulation is an important consideration. Alternative materials need to be up to 60% thicker to achieve the same level of isolation.
For the same reason, most refrigerators and freezers produced in the world are also insulated with polyurethane foam and is key to achieving increasingly stringent energy efficiency standards for household appliances.
Expanded Applications
A combination of versatility and the thermal performance of expanded polystyrene has been done (EPS) foam, produced by the polymerization of styrene monomer, one of the most widely used building insulation.
Besides having excellent thermal performance, EPS is lightweight and easy to carry and can be cut, shaped and molded into virtually any environment. Can be used as a filler material of the cavity in the form of loose string or, more commonly, as molded foam panels.
More recently, builders and architects have used the flexibility of the EPS to develop innovative applications of new insulation as insulating concrete forming (ICF) systems, EPS building blocks are filled with concrete, and advanced structural insulated panels ( SIP)
In the SIP, the EPS is sandwiched between two sheets of wood, allowing complete buildings to be erected quickly, with limited equipment and without the need for skilled labor.

Did you know ….

  • Insulation of buildings is a major mitigating factors against the use of energy and climate change
  • The Shell Group is the world’s largest producer of styrene monomer
  • Alternatives to the polyurethane foam need to be up to 60% thicker to achieve the same isolation level

This feature was added to the section on Innovations in June 2009.