When it comes to industrial and commercial insulation needs, calcium silicate has become an increasingly popular choice. As awareness grows of its performance benefits compared to traditional fibrous and foam insulations, more construction projects are specifying calcium silicate boards, panels, and pipe covers. Here’s a closer look at why this engineered mineral insulation stands out.
– What Is Calcium Silicate?
Calcium silicate is a type of high-density non-combustible insulation material produced from recovered industrial by-products like fly ash, sand, and lime. Through a sintering process, these materials are converted into a durable, dimensionally stable composition. The final product resembles a fiber-cement board or rigid panel.
– Types Of Calcium Silicate Products
- Calcium silicate boards: Straight boards ideal for behind cladding, below roofing, or beneath raised floors. Easy to cut and handle.
- Calcium silicate panels: Pre-formed panels speed installation for flat roofing, curved surfaces, and hard to reach places.
- Calcium silicate pipe covers: Slip-on or sectional covers insulate industrial piping from freezing or high process temperatures.
- Plastic castable: It is a cementitious material. Normally for heavy-duty roofing tiles or panels.
- High alumina castable: It is a type of refractory material which high temperature resistance is required.
- Gunning refractory castables: It have a more fluid, pumpable consistency compared to regular castables. Gunning is a spray application method used to apply refractory castable mixtures onto hot surfaces.
- Custom shapes: Can be produced in complex molded or customized sizes for unique projects.
– Performance Advantages Over Other Insulations
- Non-combustible: Made entirely of mineral products, poses no fire risk even at elevated temperatures up to 1260°F/680°C.
- Thermal performance: Delivers industry-leading long-term R-values up to R-6.5 per inch thanks to extremely low water vapor permeance.
- Water resistance: Impervious to moisture rot and corrosion, with a vapor retarder rating of 5 or greater. Ideal for below-grade, wet process, or coastal installations.
- Durability: Strong, dimensionally stable composition withstands impacts and resists cracking or decomposition over decades of use.
- Safe for plenums: Can be installed in air spaces without barrier due to zero flame spread/smoke development.
- Suitable for extreme applications: Withstands temperatures from cryogenic to 1260°F/680°C, making it ideal for high-temperature industrial processes.
– Cost analysis
While calcium silicate boards command a higher upfront material cost than cheaper options, the long-term savings are significant. Some examples include:
- Reduced risk of corrosion under insulation requiring expensive repairs.
Possibility of downsizing HVAC equipment for similar building efficiency.
- Lower life-cycle costs due to durable 50+ year lifespan and moisture/fire resistance.
- Elimination of Health & Safety-related costs for structure fires started by combustible insulations.
– Green Building Benefits
Calcium silicate earns credits for green building certifications like LEED due to its sustainable manufacturing origins and performance characteristics:
- Produced from 90% recovered waste materials reducing embodied energy and emissions.
- Phenol-formaldehyde free composition safe for indoor air quality.
- Closed-cell structure traps insulating gas for decades vs. settling of fiber insulations.
- Water impermeable to help control mold growth under cladding and behind walls.
- Withstands full life cycle without replacement, diverting landfill-bound waste.
– Application Versatility
Calcium silicate can be adapted to a huge variety of architectural, industrial, and commercial insulation needs:
- Behind curtain wall and rainscreen cladding
- Cavity wall insulation
- Cold storage and freezer insulation
- Raised floor insulation
- Ductwork and plenum insulation
- Insulation under membrane roofing systems
- Kiln and furnace insulation
- Cryogenic pipe insulation
- Boiler and tank insulation
With superior performance, long-term cost savings, and sustainability attributes, calcium silicate insulation has emerged as a premier choice for mission critical, green building, and industrial thermal management projects where non-combustibility and moisture resistance are essential.