Foam-Control PLUS+® Outperforms XPS When Exposed to Moisture

By: Jim Nugent – Regional Sales Manager

As the word spreads throughout the construction industry about the advantages of expanded polystyrene, specifically Foam-Control PLUS+® architectural insulation, and the advantages over extruded polystyrene, we realize there is still a lot of growth opportunity and there are many architects and contractors who still have not heard our message. With that in mind I want to review some long term independently published comparisons with Foam-Control PLUS+® and XPS as well as some new very exciting information.

Long term R Value:
There are new independently tested R-values of XPS showing the R-values of samples obtained from the market place after 3 years are under the published R5 per inch. This really should not be a surprise, yet it can catch people off guard. When you consider XPS is polystyrene plastic with blowing agents that defuse from the cell structure of XPS the R-value will be very similar to Foam-Control PLUS+®.

FC PLUS Tech Bulletin 101Water Absorption:
There is very exciting new news in this area. Newly published water absorption data on Foam-Control PLUS+ is .3% by volume, the same published data for XPS. Here is a link to our new tech bulletin. The fact that Foam-Control PLUS+® outperforms XPS when exposed to moisture, should not be a surprise, yet there are still those who have not heard the news.

In 2008 a 15 year in-ground side by side test showed expanded polystyrene significantly outperformed XPS is water absorption and R-value retention. Several other independent tests show the same results.

The key physical property of Foam-Control PLUS+® is its higher perm rating. This “breathability” helps Foam-Control PLUS+® shed moisture in drying conditions which helps retain R-value. This perm rating can also be an advantage in “open-vapor” wall assemblies that help avoid trapped moisture.

Elastic Modulus:
There is also some new exciting news regarding the elastic modulus of our Foam-Control PLUS+® offering. What is elastic modulus? In laymen’s terms it is a way of explaining to architects and engineers the strength and stiffness of rigid insulation. Elastic modulus is an important design consideration when designing freezer floods, plaza decks, split slabs and other high loading applications. Foam-Control PLUS+® 600 has the same elastic modulus as the 60 psi XPS product and our Foam-Control PLUS+® 400 has a higher elastic modulus than 40 psi XPS. The labor saving of larger pieces and the over lower material cost have Foam-Control PLUS+® 400 and 600 growing significantly across the US.

All of this information and more can be found on our website I hope this summary of some exciting new information and a review of some long standing independent testing will help to reinforce the significant advantages you have when using Foam-Control Plus+ on your next project. It is truly an architectural insulation like no other.

Posted in Below-Grade Insulation, Sheathing & Wall Applications | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Think Small – Unique Size And Strength

DuraTherm® Expanded Polystyrene Pre-Puff

The emerging market of medical applications and it’s requirement for small size but stable materials.  ACH Foam Technologies DuraTherm® EPS Pre-puff offers a variety of densities and has you covered.   Below are a few examples of common uses for DuraTherm Pre-Puff inside Medical Positioning Pillows & also Bead sizing images.   DuraTherm Density ranging from .75 lb to 4.5 lb per cubic foot using B, C &  T bead type resin.   Typical bead size diameters range from .40 mm to 1.5 mm.

1.5 pcf pre-puff T size bead

1.5 pcf pre-puff T size bead

4.25 pcf B szie

4.25 pcf B size

Medical Positioning Pillow

Medical Positioning Pillow

Please reach out to one of our 9 plant locations to learn more.


Posted in OEM Solutions | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Burning Characteristics of Common Insulation Materials

By: Tamara Middleton, Sales Representative – Architectural Products

ASTM E84 Standard Test Method for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Material compares the burning behavior of a material with that of a select grade red oak.  This test involves a sample of material in a tunnel with a flame held at one end and a draft applied.  The flame is held for 10 minutes, smoke and flame spread are measured.  This is basically stage two of the three stages of fire growth. A fire starts with the non-flaming stage then progresses to well-ventilated flaming and finally to under-ventilated flaming.

ASTM E84 tests the characteristics of insulation under the well-ventilated flaming stage, and well-ventilated fires are generally small and extinguishable, however fires in enclosed buildings can rapidly grow into under-ventilated fires.  At this point the fire is large and becoming quite toxic.

Using the steady state tube furnace, toxic yields were determined for several types of building insulation, three of them were Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), Polyisocyanurate (PIR), and Polyurethane (PUR).  The insulations were tested under smoldering conditions and flaming conditions.  It was found that the levels of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Carbon Monoxide (CO) in the smoldering EPS were below the limits of detection, and 0.003mg/g Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN).  The PUR yielded 19.324 mg/g of CO2, 1.6mg/g of CO and .056mg/g of HCN, while the PIR yielded 25.39 mg/g of CO2, 2.171mg/g of CO and .083mg/g of HCN.  Under flaming conditions the EPS with its high content of carbon produces more CO2 than the other two insulations, however the CO2 yield in all three decreases at the fire progresses from well-ventilated to under-ventilated as the oxygen level decreases.  The CO levels increase in all three insulations at the fire progresses.  The HCN yield for both PUR and PIR increases significantly as the fire progresses, while the HCN yield for EPS remains nearly undetectable.

In short all of the above insulations yield high levels of CO2 when burning in stage two, however once in stage three or under-ventilated burning, only the Polyisocyanurate and Polyurethane yield high levels of Hydrogen Cyanide.

Assessment of Fire Toxicity of Building Insulation Materials, Anna A Stec and T Richard Hull
Center for fire and Hazard Science
University of Central Lancashire
Preson, PR1 2HE, UK
The Ins and Outs of ASTM E84 Fire Testing
Atlas Roofing Corporation
September 23rd, 2014
Posted in Below-Grade Insulation, Sheathing & Wall Applications, Perimeter & Below-Grade Insulation, Roof Insulation | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Geofoam: Competing Against Dirt Cheap Soil

By: Terry Meier, Geofoam Specialist

There is a saying that when something is extremely inexpensive it is “dirt cheap”.

When using EPS foam as a light weight fill material (Geofoam), it is often replacing dirt, so then how can Geofoam be cost competitive with something as cheap as dirt? Why would EPS Geofoam ever be used to replace dirt when dirt is so “dirt cheap?”

The answer is simple. Just because something is cheap doesn’t necessarily mean that it is always cheap to use.

I was surprised to learn that compacted soil weights as much as 125 pounds per cubic foot. That’s a lot! EPS Geofoam by comparison is 1 to 3 pounds per cubic foot depending on density.

Dirt 100 to Geofoam 1

100 to 1 weight ratio. The cube of Geofoam & the bag of dirt weigh the same amount.

Because dirt is so heavy it exerts a great deal of pressure causing numerous problems such as settlement, structural damage, and instability. Measures taken to prevent those problems are often very expensive. Even though EPS Geofoam is more expensive than dirt, in many cases it can actually save money by eliminating these problems associated with using heavier dirt.

Here are a few examples of jobs that saved money by replacing dirt with EPS Geofoam.

I-15 Freeway

I-15 Powerline

At this location on I-15 there are 3 utilities crossing the embankment. If regular fill material (dirt) had been used these utilities would need to be relocated to prevent damage caused by additional weight and differential settlement.  The cost of this relocation was estimated at over $5,000,000. By using EPS Geofoam the utilities were left in place saving the cost of relocation.

 Provo City Temple

Provo City Temple

The entire city block surrounding the temple used Geofoam to fill in depths of 3’ to 6’ on the upper level of the garage. Beneath the Geofoam was an underground parking structure and additional rooms extending from the temple. The Geofoam was either covered over with landscaping or paved over to accommodate parking. Geofoam lightened the load on the underground structures so much that the builders could reduce the volume of concrete and rebar required to support the structure. This reduction of building materials resulted in significant cost savings.

 IHC Hospital

IHC Hospital

The foundation wall on this hospital was over 30 feet tall. Using soil would exert a tremendous amount of lateral pressure on the wall. The wall was designed to be 32 inches thick to support this pressure. By using Geofoam the wall thickness was reduced to 18 inches. This reduction of thickness saved a great deal of money.

These are just of few of the many examples of how dirt isn’t always “cheap” and how using Geofoam instead of dirt can bring about some big dollar savings.

Posted in About ACH Foam, Geofoam | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

ACH Foam Technologies Solves the Rigid Insulation Water Absorption Equation

By: John Cowan, Regional Sales Manager

There are several things I think we can all agree upon about rigid insulation. Performance in the field is more important than laboratory results. Stability and long-term performance of R-Values outweighs the published R-Value of the product by the manufacturer.

Until now, laboratory testing for water absorption of molded polystyrene indicated a higher water absorption rate than XPS. Recently completed laboratory tests indicates the maximum volume water absorption of molded polystyrene is 0.3%! Tests done prior to this did not take into account a drying period following the wetting period of the product.

0.3 Water Absorption

ASTM C 272 testing methods were used followed by a 24-hour drying period before measuring water absorption by volume. The 0.3 maximum absorption by volume is the same as XPS. R-Value tests were performed on samples of XPS and Polyiso obtained from major industry suppliers. The samples of XPS and Polyiso were tested periodically for R-Values over the next 3 years. The samples were tested at both 40 and 75 degrees at an accredited lab.

At 75 degrees all three Polyiso samples tested were below the published LTTR of 5.6 after 1-½ years. At 40 degrees the Polyiso actually had an R-Value less than at 75 degrees! The XPS samples were below the published R-Value of 5.0 within a month of testing. The XPS samples continued to decline in R-Value for the next several years. Compare this to the stability of the R-Value of molded polystyrene.

When you look at all the advantages of ACH Foam Technologies’ Foam-Control® PLUS+® architectural insulation: recycle content, the availability of a variety of sizes (1/2” up to 36” plus a variety of lengths & widths), stable R-Value, and costs savings up to 30%, Foam-Control® PLUS+® is the clear choice of rigid insulation.

Posted in Below-Grade Insulation, Sheathing & Wall Applications, Perimeter & Below-Grade Insulation | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment