Magazine Haller Kreisblatt reports about EPS and XPS thermal insulation

logo_smallHaller Kreisblatt is a German local news paper in the Altkreis Halle region. It came with the following contribution. In the following, we give a Google translation of this contribution:

Never again polystyrene for urban buildings? UWG wants to do without the insulating material

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Umstritten: Das Dämmen von Gebäuden mit Styropor. Foto: Fotolia (© www.ingo-bartussek.de)

Thermal insulation of urban buildings: The Group of Independent Voters will table an application for the future waiver of the material in the Building Committee Hall . “This topic has been occupying me for years. I just can not understand how you can stick such a Sch … to the house. “Lack of understanding and a trace of annoyance resonate when Jürgen drawl on the topic of polystyrene as insulation material speaks:” If you consider what there in the future when we come to waste disposal and what we leave behind for our children? “, the civil engineer asks a rhetorical question that no-one can yet conclusively answer.

That the insulation of buildings with styrofoam, as polystyrene commonly referred to, is anything but unproblematic, has been criticized by experts for years (see criticisms below). This has now induced the UWG Group to propose in the Committee on Construction and Transport that in the future, urban buildings should no longer be styrofoam-insulated. The explanatory statement states: “The production of styrofoam from fossil petroleum consumes vast amounts of energy. It emits a lot of CO 2 (climate-damaging greenhouse gas). “

Different views on the subject of mold

In addition, the UWG points out that Styrofoam despite fire protection class B in the event of fire releases strong smoke and toxic gases. In addition, it could come through the insulation with Styrofoam to increased mildew. In its report to the committee, the administration explains that in the course of the renovation of City Hall II on Graebestrasse rock wool and, alternatively, polystyrene as insulation were already tendered. The statement that Styrofoam promotes mold growth, however, does not want to leave the city’s building administration in such a position: “In a technically correct installation, the risk of mold formation is always reduced and not increased.

In his practice as a civil engineer, Jürgen Deichsel has, however, according to his own data, often experienced that work was not carried out properly, and after a few years, defects in the insulation were visible: “Styrofoam often does not last longer than 30 years and then has already been revised In addition, the expert criticizes that, according to his observation in the past, the necessary fire bars have not been sufficiently installed in many buildings, in order to prevent the fire from jumping from one floor to the other in the event of a fire, as a presbyter Tiller had to report that there is a condition of the state church, which prohibits the use of polystyrene in church buildings:”Steinwolle was used for the cultivation of the kindergarten in Künsebeck and also with the new building of the device at the Neustädter Straße no polystyrene is used.”

In its draft resolution for the committee meeting on Thursday evening from 17.15 clock in the town hall hall, the administration accepts the request of the UWG and advises to renounce in the future, in principle, the use of polystyrene in urban buildings. Exceptions should be made to the committee on a case-by-case basis. The decision on the application, however, the policy.

 INFO
Many criticisms
  • For many years, lobbyists and politicians have been campaigning to keep houses airtight with polystyrene, better known as styrofoam. Meanwhile, the critical voices are multiplying, stating reasons against the use of the insulating material made of petroleum.

Toxic HBCD

  • Older insulation boards contain the bromine compound HBCD (hexabromocyclododecane). In the event of a fire, it should prevent the fire from spreading over the entire façade. Already in 2008 it was included in the list of toxic substances and banned worldwide. However, it has only been possible to use insulation materials in Germany since 2015. Despite the ban, plates treated with HBCD were allowed to be sold until August 2017.

Hazardous waste?

  • Meanwhile, styrofoam plates treated with HBCD were classified as toxic waste and had to be disposed of as hazardous waste. Because there were massive disposal bottlenecks, the classification of the policy was withdrawn. Since August 2017, styrofoam treated with HBCD has therefore only to be disposed of separately.

Use of biocides

  • Styrofoam is also criticized because it often adds chemicals (biocides) to the material to prevent algae and mold on insulated house walls.

energy balance

  • Controversial is the energy balance of Styrofoam. Critics note that she turns negative when her lifetime is 50 years old

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The life time of EPS/XPS should be only 30 years while 50 years is given in the Environmental Product Declarations. Also flame retarders are (have to be ) used, which are problematic for disposal. On top of that, biocides are present to avoid mold and algae. All these large problems are NOT present in GLAPOR cellular glass and its life time is a lot larger than 50 years, like every bottle and window can tell you. Indeed, GLAPOR is foamed from bottles and windows.

Magazine “Das Haus” about Radon and cellular glass

logo_small“Das Haus” is a German magazine about building and decorating houses. In a recent number, they have a contribution about the risks of Radon. In this contribution, they advice to use cellular glass as a seal against the radon gas.  Hereunder, you will find a Google translation of the German article, which can be understood.

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Radon is a radioactive noble gas naturally occurring in granitic soils. Especially in regions in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Saxony, the gas is pouring out of the ground. In unsealed basements and ground floors, it can collect and affect the health of residents. Radiation experts warn of this danger: After smoking, radon is one of the leading causes of lung cancer.

You can not smell, feel, see or taste it. Nevertheless, radon is a serious health hazard. Barely noticed by the public, it is the second leading cause of lung cancer. In the Federal Republic of Germany, 2,000 people suffer from this cancer each year due to radon. In the EU, according to recent studies, 20,000 people per year are affected. Radon is still a source of danger asbestos or diesel soot.

Radon is a big radioactive strain on humans

But what is Radon anyway? Radon-222 is a naturally occurring noble gas produced from uranium disintegration processes. It is itself radioactive and (according to information video of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection) “the largest radioactive pollution for humanity”. Like uranium, it occurs in all soils and rocks – whether it poses a threat depends on the uranium content and the permeability of the soil. Typical areas with high radon concentrations in this country are parts of the Erzgebirge and the Bavarian Forest, the Vogtland and the Eifel. Particularly affected are areas with granite and volcanic rock or black slate.

One in ten households is exposed to too much radon

As a gas, radon spreads easily in the pores in the soil, from where it then enters the atmosphere. “Depending on the region, the air at a height of 1.5 m contains between 5 and 30 becquerels per cubic meter (Bq / m³) of radon a year,” explains Jan Henrik Lauer of the BfS Press Office. That alone is not a cause for concern, because the gas is quickly distributed in the outside air. The situation is different in buildings: leaking foundations, even along pipelines, can cause the gas to reach basement rooms and accumulate in the room air. The radon finds its way to the upper floors via cable ducts, stairs and leaking ceilings. According to the BfS, every tenth household is exposed to such an increased radon load of 100 Bq / m³.

Clues as to how high the burden of radon in a region is, call authorities such as environmental and health offices and the radon card of the BfS. But that does not say anything about the actual burden on your own home. Thus, the brochure “Radonschutz measures” (a planning aid for new and existing buildings of the state of Saxony) states: “Large differences are even within a plot … not uncommon”.

A soil survey can show the radon load

GLAPORlogoCertainty brings a Bodegutachten before buying a property. Based on this, it is already possible to prevent a radon load during the construction phase, eg with a foam glass seal or a radon drainage. Even in existing buildings, the danger is not helpless: already consequent airing, especially in the cellar area, is an important step to prevent the enrichment. Likewise, a sealing of the cellar door can be helpful. But if you also use the basement as a living space, larger steps are required. A general overview of such measures is provided by the Radonhandbuch Deutschland.

A Radon standard is currently being prepared to provide planners and contractors instructions. This will also be necessary because in 2018 a new Radiation Protection Act will come into force, which will also be dedicated to protection against radon. However, it incorporated the Radon reference value of 300 Bq / m³ from the EU. The Ministry of the Environment and the BfS already see a need for action for recreation rooms at radon concentrations above 100 Bq / m³ (annual mean). According to Jan Hendrik Lauer, it should be examined here “whether these can be reduced below 100 Bq / m³ with reasonable effort. In rarely or only temporarily used rooms, higher concentrations can be tolerated “. Whoever picks up a beer or potatoes from the cellar, does not need to be active.

Tenants are not entitled to protection against radon

However, while under the new law on workplaces there is an obligation not to permanently exceed the reference value of 100 Bq / m³, tenants in living spaces are not entitled to measures by the homeowner. Here you should look for the conversation with the landlord: Often, any necessary rehabilitation measures can be so connected to the Radonschutz that no excessive extra costs are caused. However, it is only possible to determine how high the values ​​are by means of a professional on-site measurement over a longer period of time.

The most important measures against radon

You can hardly escape the radon. Most important measure: a professional long-term measurement. And then: ventilate consistently, seal off creeping paths, vacuum the gas.

Who informs about radon?

  • The radon map with values ​​from more than 2,300 measuring points nationwide shows how high the regional exposure to radon is. These can be found online at the BfS at  https://www.bfs.de/DE/themen/ion/umwelt/radon/boden/radon-karte.html
  • The environmental ministries of individual federal states also provide overview maps.
  • The Radon manual with practical information from the BfS can be downloaded here:  www.raumanalytik.de/media/radonhandbuchdeutschland.pdf
  • The brochure “Radon-protective measures – planning aid for new and existing buildings” of the state of Saxony.
  • Measuring instruments are available from specialist companies.

The original article can be found in pdf1 and pdf2. In case cellular glass is chosen to seal the house, it makes sense to use the large GLAPOR boards to reduce the number of joints.

 

Cellular glass is radon tight … so what?

logo_smallToday there are too much lawyers on this world and they are boring themselves to death. And as a consequence, they become politican and find out laws, which we do not need. One such a thing is the radon tightness of closed cell cellular glass.

Gavel in courtroom working office of lawer legislation.If cellular glass is vapour tight, we can expect that it is also Radon tight. But this logic is not accepted by our lawyer world. For that reason, GLAPOR has ordered a RADON diffusion experiment with is described in this report.

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What-is-Radon920x426_menuIndeed, a layer of 50 mm cellular glass is 250 times the diffusion length, which means that Radon cannot diffuse through the cellular glass without decaying in the cellular glass. In that way, it is impossible that Radon decays in the lungs of humans and animals behind the cellular glass.

01_06_04It is needed to install the boards with hot bitumen (which is also Radon tight) but pinholes in the bitumen remain a small risk in the joints. For that reason, it is advised to work with large boards (GLAPOR cellular glass: 2800 mm x 1200 mm) to reduce the number of joints as much as possible. Dry installation of the boards will only minimally protect against Radon.

Styrene is probably cancerogenic for humans

logo_smallI was surprised when I found the following in the Lancet, a medical magazine. It states that: ” The Working Group classified styrene in Group 2A, “probably carcinogenic to humans” based on limited evidence in humans and sufficient evidence in experimental animals for carcinogenicity.”  This is a new classification since March 2018 because the older one gives a less dramatic one.

whale1Like described in this recent paper and this older paper, styrene is used to produce polystyrene and the latter one is foamed to expanded (EPS) or extruded (XPS) polystyrene. I don´t believe that XPS or EPS or cancerogenic during the use as thermal insulation but disposal is not straightforward.

Indeed, the landfill method is not a good method because these products are reduced spontaneously to small particles, which are not biogredable and end up in all kind of organisms and also later on in humans. Combustion has to be done above 1000°C to avoid all kind of flue gases while standard incinerators are working at 850°C.

For that reason, a lot of American cities have already banned the use of polytsyrene  for the following reasons:

  • It does not biodegrade. It may break into small pieces, even minuscule pieces. But the smaller EPS gets, the harder it is to clean up.
  • It is made of fossil fuels and synthetic chemicals. Those chemicals may leach if they come in contact with hot, greasy or acidic food. Yes, they keep your coffee hot – but they may also add an unwanted dose of toxins to your drink.
  • Animals sometimes eat it. Turtles and fish seem to mistake EPS for food, and that can kill them. Not only can they not digest it, but the foam could be full of poisons that it has absorbed from contaminants floating in the water.
  • It can’t be recycled. Some commercial mailing houses may accept packing peanuts, but for the most part community recycling centers do not accept throwaway foam food containers

To me it is clear. EPS and XPS are not needed in the building industry and can be replaced by cellular glass. GLAPOR cellular glass is in that case the most ecologic alternative.

Protecting against radon with cellular glass boards

logo_smallRadon is a natural radioactive gas that causes cancer when it is present in the lungs. In regions with a lot of Uranium and Thorium in the soil, this Radon gas is present in higher concentrations. When accumulated in a building, a real health problem is present being the second cause of lung cancer. The situation in Europe is shown in the following picture. Everything more tha yellow deserves measures against radiation.

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radonThe American government educates its citizen how to build houses to avoid Radon accumulation like shown in this leaflet. The standard method is to use a ventilated space under the floor.

The need of this ventilated space is clear if cellular glass is not taken into account. A German paper of Keller shows how Radon diffuison is measured in building materials and gives a tabel (see hereunder) with the diffusion length for Radon. This is the length Radon diffuses before it decays with harmfull radiation. A Radon barrier should have a thickness three times this diffusion length to withstand 95% of the Radon.

table

It is clear that a concrete beam of 200mm thickness is on the limit and that for polymer materials the joints are uppermost important. Indeed, not using a ventilated space under these systems is a risk.

radonBut like already mentionned in a previous post, cellular glass boards are a perfect light barrier against radon. A compact layer of cellular glass boards in bitumen is a perfect screen (100 mm cellular glass is 100 times the diffusion limit of Radon) serving also as thermal insulation and avoiding expensive radon ventilation systems. The bitumen joints are the only risk but using large GLAPOR cellular glass boards  280 x 120 cm reduces this risk for radon leaks with a factor 12  compared with 59.9 x 44.9 cm boards.

On top of that, if for passive housing these GLAPOR boards are installed on a thick layer of (implicit ventilated) GLAPOR cellular glass gravel with the RDS system, even the presence of negligible concentrations of Radon in the house is eliminated and a passive housing standard thermal insulation is installed under the floor at a very good price.

The contributions of Elena Yatsenko for cellular glass

logo_smallProf. Elena Yatsenko has a chair at the Platov South-Russian State Polytechnic University (NPI) in Russia. While the universities of Aalborg, Ljubljana and St. Petersburg are recycling glass, prof. Yatsenko is converting slag into cellular glass.

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I found the following publications:

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Today, most of the recycled glass is used for the standard glass industry and a minor part, which cannot be recycled for bottles and windows is today used for cellular glass. However, reusing slag waste for cellular glass is a new step in the recycling industry. Today, slag is used in the cement industry and also slag wool can be produced for thermal insulation. But it seems that a new future, namely cellular slag is arriving. Indeed, glass powder for foaming should be at least 10 times more expensive than slag powder.

Thermal insulation according to Architect Konrad Fisher

logo_smallKonrad Fisher was an herectic against outside thermal insulation on walls with a rendering. According to him, all thermal insulation except (closed cells) cellular glass develops mold and other problems in the rendering, which make look the rendering dirty. The rendering has to be cleaned regularly or to be treated by harmfull and expensive fungicides. Bot operations have a large cost.

konradfischerIn his opinion, cellular glass, due to his closed cell structure is a much better alternative, which does not become wet and will not induce mold on the rendering. He explains everything in a YouTube movie, however in German.

He also mentions the price of cellular glass but he is clearly not aware of the new generation cellular glass from GLAPOR at 250€/m³. In this case, maintenance of the will be much lower, generating a payback for the cellular glass.

mold_rendering                   fisher_schaumglas

Above, you observe a dirty rendering due to mold and on the right the solution according to Konrad Fisher with cellular glass in his hands. These pictures can be found in the YouTube movie.

Stanley Kubrick has known it already a long time …

logo_smallIn 1969, a world famous movie was produced by Stanley Kubrick:   2001: A Space Odyssey. This link on You Tube shows a part of the movie. I give one frame hereunder:

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It is clear that Stanley Kubrick predicts the large monolitic  GLAPOR cellular glass boards as the future material (Monoliths) to generate a new evolution step.

In Arthur C. Clarke‘s Space OdysseyMonoliths are machines built by an unseen extraterrestrial species. In the series of novels (and the films based on these), three Monoliths are discovered in the solar system by humans. The response of the characters to their discovery drives the plot of the series. It also influences the fictional history of the series, particularly by encouraging humankind to progress with technological development and space travel.

Indeed today, GLAPOR cellular glass is participating for a future ecological world.

Houses with cellular glass walls

logo_smallIt is already mentioned in this blog that large cellular boards can be used as thermal insulation and also as construction material, giving the stability of the wall. Especially in the passive housing market, this can be important. Today, we have two examples in Europe, where people on their own initiative started to use cellular glass as stability element and thermal insulation.

In this system, cellular glass is used in combination with brick slices by Clean Tech Block.

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A passive housing U-value can be reached with normal wall thickness (< 400mm) and cellular glass, directly foamed from recycled glass. In the following system, cellular glass is used in combination with wood by Tebit Oy, Finland.

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It is clear that the future is great for not expensive large boards cellular glass like today produced by GLAPOR cellular glass.