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What Is Vacuum Insulation?


Vacuum insulation is an advanced insulation material offering superior protection from heat transfer. While other forms of insulation rely on physical particles moving to transmit heat, vacuum insulation does not use this process, and thus neither conduction nor convection is possible. Tips on What is Vacuum glazing?

Insulation helps prevent ice formation on pipes, which could otherwise damage and blockage them – an essential consideration in cryogenic applications.

Vacuum Insulation Panels

Vacuum insulation panels (VIPs), also known as VIPs, are the latest and most significant advancement in thermal insulation technology. VIPs provide insulation ten times better than traditional materials while reaching target U-values with minimal thickness.

VIPs have a rigid core enclosed within a gas-tight film for hermetic sealing. The hermetically sealed heart protects it from moisture and gases entering, eliminating condensation while simultaneously decreasing energy consumption and consumption costs. Furthermore, the vacuum created within the VIP stops thermal conduction for reduced energy use, resulting in an extremely low thermal conductivity of less than 0.007 W/mK.

VIP panels utilize a core material composed of fumed silica powder pressed together into a dense powder with an approximate density of 1 kg/m3. When exposed to air, however, this vacuum quickly deflates, becoming an ordinary insulator with high thermal conductivity.

Due to the vacuum sealing process, VIPs are extremely reliable regarding integrity. Furthermore, as there is no air conduction within a vacuum environment, their weight remains very low, allowing them to be easily handled and installed, meeting all fire protection standards for thermal insulation materials.

VIPs are ideal for retrofit insulation in existing buildings due to their lightness and minimal thickness installation requirements, unlike expanded polystyrene (EPS) and polyurethane foam insulators, which require additional building components and cause significant space losses.

Notably, VIP insulation properties depend on the integrity of their sealing between core and film layers; any breach in that seal could lead to increased thermal conductivity and make the panel ineffective.

VIPs provide numerous advantages to new construction. Their thin nature enables higher R-values with less insulation thickness, making VIPs great for sleek designs like dormer windows and balconies that require insulation but cannot accommodate thicker materials such as foam board insulation.

Vapor Barriers

Vapor barriers are essential to many building projects, protecting against moisture-related flooring failures, slowing the spread of mold and mildew growth, and blocking toxic gases from entering structures. Unfortunately, however, the term “vapor barrier” can be misleading and be mistaken for air or water barriers; their functions differ substantially, and distinguishing between them is, therefore, essential.

Vapor barriers are low-permeable plastic materials designed to stop water vapor from passing into or out of walls, floors, or ceiling assemblies. Vapor barriers may be made from polyethylene, polypropylene, and PVC plastics and come in various thicknesses according to each application; thicker barriers are better suited for exterior uses, while thinner versions can often be found inside wall insulation and framing assemblies.

Lamberti states this new requirement will help prevent costly moisture-related flooring and structural issues and improve indoor air quality while contributing to healthier living environments.

Lamberti suggests that builders consult local codes and installation guidelines when assessing vapor barrier requirements for construction projects. These may differ based on state or climate zone. When making their determination about whether a vapor barrier is needed, building and design professionals should also take into account factors like cladding type, construction method, and moisture storage capacity to determine its necessity.

A vapor barrier is designed to stop the transfer of water vapor from one side of a wall to the other through diffusion processes that occur when humid outdoor air meets dry indoor air, where its moisture diffuses through walls, eventually leading to moisture damage of structures. A vapor barrier mitigates this by keeping humidity levels down, helping reduce transference, and supporting drying mechanisms.

However, installing a vapor barrier on an already damaged wall could trap moisture behind it and worsen existing damage. Builders should always ensure their walls are watertight before installing a vapor barrier.

Insulation Materials

Insulation is an integral component of building envelopes, helping control air temperature by limiting heat transfer between spaces. Insulation protects piping, wiring, and other electrical components in structures from condensation and mold growth while improving indoor air quality. It can be installed anywhere—walls, floors, ceilings, roofs, attics of commercial and residential buildings, or even industrial plants.

Insulation materials come in all shapes and sizes. From bulky materials that trap air or gases to resist heat flow to sleek foils and foams that resist radiant heat flow, some are blown in with special equipment or poured directly, while others come prefabricated around pipes and ducts or as rolls or sheets to be cut to size and placed between framing members or between preparing members for placement between framing members. Radiant barriers, mainly, are used as radiant heat blockers in cooler climates.

Most insulation materials include fiberglass, cellulose, and mineral wool, as well as polyisocyanurate foam and polyurethane. These closed-cell products with high R-values are made with recycled material that emits low to no toxins when burned; more materials equals higher R-values.

Vermiculite, perlite, and urea formaldehyde insulation products were once widely used but have since been eclipsed by more health-friendly options.

Insulation materials that offer optimal performance include non-flammable and fireproof options suitable for any climate. They should also be easy to work with and not produce toxic fumes when exposed to flames or smoke. Selecting an optimal insulation option depends on desired costs and levels of performance.

Foam insulation is an ideal choice for a home, as it is highly effective and can be installed quickly in any part of the house. Furthermore, its thickness varies; thicker layers will offer excellent thermal resistance but could prove more costly than others.


Vacuum insulation panels are more cost-effective and space-saving alternatives to traditional insulation materials like polystyrene or polyurethane, saving the building owner space and allowing more oversized windows and doors. They’re suitable for new builds as well as roof reroofing projects, especially those where there’s limited roof surface area available.

One of the main benefits of vacuum insulation is its superior thermal performance, achieved through its combination of an aluminum barrier layer and a microporous silica-pressed powder core. As a result, vacuum insulation can insulate up to 25 times better than foam insulation such as PIR/PUR, Foamglas Armaflex, or Mission.

Vacuum insulation’s low conductivity is attributable to its lack of gas molecules, which prevent conduction and provide excellent heat loss protection. However, vacuum insulation remains susceptible to radiation loss as any object with temperatures above absolute zero emits energy through radiation; for this reason, it’s wise to add reflective coating when using vacuum insulation.

Over the past several years, various getter materials have been introduced for vacuum insulation applications, and their long-term performance has been explored. Unfortunately, however, their practical application to construction environments remains unknown.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory has addressed this problem by creating a self-healing barrier film explicitly designed for VIPs that instantly repairs punctures or other forms of damage, helping maintain its integrity while maintaining high thermal resistance throughout its service life.

Vacuum insulation’s primary benefit lies in its ability to prevent ice buildup on piping, which can damage pipes and lead to system failures. To mitigate icing risks, vacuum insulation is often combined with water- or glycol-based de-icing agents, which can be pumped out when necessary. This feature can prove especially helpful in cold climates where humidity causes pipes to freeze upon exposure to low air temperatures.

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