Thermal Conductivity of Polyurethane Foam
Thermal conductivity is defined as the amount of heat (in watts) transferred through a square area of material of given thickness (in metres) due to a difference in temperature. The lower the thermal conductivity of the material the greater the material’s ability to resist heat transfer, and hence the greater the insulation’s effectiveness. Typical thermal conductivity values for polyurethane foams are between 0.022 and 0.035W/m∙K.
In general, thermal insulation is primarily based on the very low thermal conductivity of gases. Gases possess poor thermal conduction properties compared to liquids and solids, and thus makes a good insulation material if they can be trapped (e.g. in a foam-like structure). Air and other gases are generally good insulators. But the main benefit is in the absence of convection. Therefore, many insulating materials (e.g. polyurethane foam) function simply by having a large number of gas-filled pockets which prevent large-scale convection.
Alternation of gas pocket and solid material causes that the heat must be transferred through many interfaces causing rapid decrease in heat transfer coefficient.
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