HVAC foam insulation consists of a highly efficient method to improve these systems’ performance and sustainability. The many benefits of applying expanded polypropylene foam have caused the rise in the number of this material’s applications in the Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning, and Refrigeration (HVAC) industry.
What exactly is EPP foam and how can it be applied in HVAC structures? Keep reading to find out.
What is HVAC foam insulation?
HVAC foam insulation is a type of system designed to provide thermal and acoustic insulation by employing plastic foam parts.
Arguably, one of the most popular and effective materials to achieve HVAC foam insulation is expanded polypropylene foam. EPP foam is a closed-cell bead foam that consists of 98% air and 2% matter (in the form of cylinder-shaped beads made of polypropylene).
Because of its particular manufacturing process and this exceptional composition, it provides a series of benefits as part of HVAC parts, the most significant being its capacity for outstanding thermal insulation. Its lightweight nature also represents a significant improvement to earlier HVAC structures, which used heavier components.
In order to be applied in HVAC foam insulation projects, EPP foam can be made in different densities (from 15 to 200 grams per liter). Today, these technical parts for HVAC typically present medium to high-density values.
Why is HVAC foam insulation useful?
EPP foam is found across the HVAC sector in order to improve these systems’ energy efficiency.
There are a number of reasons why the use of expanded polypropylene foam has replaced other materials in the making of increasingly efficient HVAC foam insulation:
- Heat insulation: as energy loss in HVAC systems is increasingly understood (and it’s undesirable ensuring economic and environmental costs) EPP foam is hailed as a versatile and efficient solution to improve these systems’ thermal efficiency. As such, applying expanded polypropylene foam eliminates the influence of thermal bridges and heat losses by providing efficient insulation for pumps, water heaters and other HVAC components.
- Lightweights: Switching from heavier materials to the exceptionally lightweight EPP foam means HVAC structures represent a lesser compromise for construction projects. This lightweight also facilitates the handling and installation of these systems, further driving costs down. Additionally, HVAC EPP parts eliminate the need for installing additional steel frames.
- HVAC foam insulation also refers to acoustic insulation. In fact, EPP is able to absorb and minimize sounds, a valuable attribute to the often noisy installation of HVAC systems.
- Durability and high strength-to-weight ratio. EPP foam is durable and resistant, while also guaranteeing energy and shocks are absorbed. It presents load-bearing qualities and provides effective protection against moisture and the growth of mold, fungi, and rust.
- Design versatility and customization opportunities. When it comes to HVAC foam insulation, it’s also important to acknowledge how this material allows for the manufacturing of perfectly-sealed parts for heat exchangers and ducting, adapting to each project’s needs. This means air flows don’t escape or mix. In other words, EPP foam facilitates the making of customized HVAC components, further improving these systems’ energy efficiency
Beyond the benefits of EPP foam to improve these systems’ insulation and performance, there are at least two additional benefits that are further pushing the use of this material in the HVAC sector.
On the one hand, EPP foam is a sustainable material. Beyond simplistic reductions of the use of plastic, the truth is that certain plastic materials such as EPP provide a number of environmental benefits:
- As seen above, it enhances HVAC systems’ energy efficiency, thus reducing the need for energy consumption in achieving thermal comfort within buildings.
- It’s 100% recyclable and, put through the right recuperation process, it can be used again in a number of applications.
- Its production process presents a smaller carbon footprint than the production of other materials and, because it’s made of 98% air, it requires the use of fewer raw materials.
On the other hand, EPP foam is also satisfying the need of HVAC manufacturers as it provides an aesthetically pleasant and versatile look: it can present various shapes, colors, and textures. In our case, at Knauf, we are able to provide an original palette of 36 textures in 4 lines, following current trends in industrial design.
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Which uses of HVAC foam insulation are trending?
Which sectors are most benefiting from HVAC foam insulation?
The many benefits of expanded polypropylene foam have turned it into a favored material among many industries. These include the creation of automotive parts, protective packaging or furniture, among other multiple applications.
Its employment as HVAC foam insulation also stands out among the key current uses of EPP foam.
These include the making of thermal covers, acting as a final insulation jacket, ducting for heat exchangers or heating systems’ technical parts.
As part of our work in improving HVAC efficiency, at Knauf, we additionally provide ventilation boxes, insulation of hot water tanks, and thermodynamic component support, included in our offering of Expanded Polypropylene components.
How fast is the EPP foam market growing?
The benefits of EPP foam have turned it into a very popular material that is increasingly supported across a wide variety of industries.
According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, this expansion is to be continued: the EPP foam market is projected to register a CAGR of over 6.5% in the next 5 years (2022 – 2027), recovering from the forced impasse market by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and experiencing stable growth.
This growth is expected to be driven by the positive features of this material in the HVAC foam insulation and beyond, as it represents an outstanding thermal insulator that is also sustainable and cost-efficient.
Would you like to learn more about EPP foam and its possibilities for HVAC? Download our free technical manual about expanded foam in the industry and discover this material’s possibilities for your business.