Global Warming Potential - Using water blown spray foam technology
Previously, Icynene Building Genius looked at what Global Warming Potential is and the history of blowing agents. Now, we look at how innovation in spray foam insulation uses water blown technology in closed cell foams such as Icynene ProSeal Eco and how you can effectively use this kind of technology in your commercial construction or residential construction.
Water Blown Technology
Icynene has long been known as one of the pioneers of water blown foams for spray insulation. The water in the mixture reacts during the application process to release Carbon Dioxide and heat. The combination of carbon dioxide and water vapor expand and create the three dimensional structure of the insulation.
Water blown technology was first developed for use with open cell foams. Because water reacts and creates Carbon Dioxide, the GWP of the blowing agent is that of Carbon Dioxide. As previously indicated, Carbon Dioxide has a GWP of 1.
Water blown light density spray foams, such as Icynene Classic™ and Icynene Classic Max™, are a popular design choice because, as well as having an R-value* comparable to most fibrous insulation products, they also add air barrier performance and they are vapor permeable (allowing bi-directional drying). They also are the products that offer
the lowest GWP of any foam insulation product - a GWP of 1.
However, there are applications where a higher R-value* per inch and Class II vapor retarder performance are also required. In these cases, designers used to have to specify medium density closed cell spray foam with a high GWP blowing agent to get the required performance. Recently, Icynene introduced Icynene ProSeal Eco™, a 100% water blown medium density closed cell foam. With Icynene ProSeal Eco™, there is no need to sacrifice GWP performance to get a higher R-value* per inch and vapor retarder performance. Because it is 100% water blown, it too offers offer the lowest GWP of any foam insulation product - a GWP of 1.
Global Warming Averted with Energy Savings
The GWP of blowing agents is important but it also must be recognized that the use of spray foam saves energy (and avoids greenhouse gas emissions that result in climate change) by insulating and air sealing. Because spray foam is a leading technology for saving energy, a large volume of Carbon Dioxide emissions is avoided during the time SPF insulation is in service.
Many experts suggest that the proper way of assessing greenhouse gas impact on climate change is a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). It is a much more complicated analysis including climatic conditions, energy inputs to manufacturing, transportation and other variables. However, the analysis shows water blown spray foams also produce better LCA performance than blowing agent foams.
A recent study by the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA) suggests that for many parts of the US, water blown spray foams have a payback (greenhouse gas produced versus greenhouse gas avoided) in less than a year whereas blowing agent foams typically took two to three times longer to pay back.
* R means resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power. Compare insulation R-values before you buy. There are other factors to consider. The amount of insulation you need depends mainly on the climate you live in. Also, your fuel savings from insulation will depend upon the climate, the type and size of your house, the amount of insulation already in your house, and your fuel use patterns and family size. If you buy too much insulation, it will cost you more than what you'll save on fuel. To get the marked R-value, it is essential that this insulation be installed properly.