Q: What are the insulating properties, environmental and health benefits of cellular glass?
Cellular glass is an insulation made from natural materials that contains between 40-70% recycled content. The content is commonly obtained from defective windows from car and construction industries. Cellular glass was originally developed during the last century in Moscow, Russia.
Production of Cellular Glass
Recycled glass is ground and placed in a steel mold. The material undergoes a heating process where it expands to create millions of thin, entirely sealed, glass air cells. These cells are preserved as the material is slowly cooled. The glass is then pressed together and formed into blocks. Cellular glass—with its millions of cells is well suited for the isolation of roofing, piping, floors, walls and facades.
Environmental and Health Benefits of Cellular Glass
Cellular glass has several environmental benefits. First, it’s made of recycled and natural materials. Its chemistry coincides with chemistry of traditional glass and includes calcium, magnesium, sodium, aluminum and silica. It also has a high life expectancy. The manufacturing procedure doesn’t entail non-renewable energy resources, such as oil. The glass contains no fibers or environmentally harmful gases like CFCs or HCFCs. Cellular glass has excellent sound-insulating properties. It produces no harmful substances to people, the environment or the atmosphere during manufacture, use or disposal. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has withdrawn rock, glass, and slag wool fibers from the list of materials that are possibly carcinogenic to people. One important environmental disadvantage is the high temperature use during manufacture (around 1,832 degrees Fahrenheit).
Properties of Cellular Glass
Cellular glass can operate at temperatures between -450 and +900 degrees Fahrenheit. It resists pressure up to 900 kPa and is water-and diffusion-proof. The material is completely water and vapor-tight, insusceptible to all kinds of liquids and gases, with extremely high compressive strength and low thermal expansion coefficient.
Thanks to these traits, it can withstand the humidity extremely well. Cellular glass can also be used for flat roofs with parking spaces, and is generally suitable whenever there is a risk of moisture infiltration in lofts. Cellular glass is non-combustible material, resistant to pests, common chemicals and most corrosive plant atmospheres.
By nature, all materials except glass and metals are, to some extent, permeable to water vapor. The greatest threat for insulating materials in general lies in that water vapor condenses as it cools. It then changes the insulation properties of the materials in the foundation and insulating performance deteriorates or disappears completely.
Diffusion resistance to water vapor of cellular glass is infinite, which is a truly unique property. That means that no risk of condensation is present. Insulating ability of the cell glass remains constant when the material is kept dry. Also, since glass is an inorganic material, it cannot get affected by mould, fungus or microorganisms.
Who are the makers of cellular glass?
One distinctive proprietary brand for cellular glass is Foamglas by Pittsburgh Corning (UK) Ltd.