What does Thermal Insulation Mean?

05.02.2015
Heat naturally flows from high to low temperatures, and maximum heat flow occurs through those channels where resistance is at its lowest. It is a type of energy which is transferred from hot to cold media. In winter, the heat flows from interior to exterior spaces, and in summer, it flows through cooled interior spaces. The treatment which is performed to reduce the heat transfer between two media at different temperatures is called thermal insulation. Materials which ensure this treatment are called thermal insulation materials.

All events in nature occur in a manner that the quality of energy is reduced. For example, a cup of hot coffee on the table will cool down over time or a cold beverage will warm up eventually. This phenomenon, known as the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, was proved as a result of the researches made by William Rankin, Rudolf Clausius and Lord Kelvin in 1850s.

For people to live a comfortable life, their environments should be at a temperature of 20-22 °C and the relative humidity value in the environment should be 50%. In winter, temperatures of the exterior environment are well below 20 °C. However in summer, weather temperatures are well above 20 °C. Heat is a form of energy and according to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, heat is transferred from hot to cold medium. Thus, in buildings energy losses occur in winter and undesirable energy gains occur in summer. For ensuring the desired comfortable environment inside the building, the heat loss in winter should be reduced by a heating system and the gained heat in summer should be transferred to exterior environment by a cooling system. Energy is consumed both for heating and cooling. Limiting heat gains and losses in a building means reducing the energy amount which is required to be consumed for heating and cooling. Heating and cooling processes mostly require hot or cold fluids to be carried through relevant installations. According to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, a heat transfer which reduces the amount of energy from the hot fluid to the environment or from the environment to the cold fluid seems inevitable. For heating and cooling systems to operate with the desired performance, considering these losses and gains, the fluid to be used should be overheated or undercooled. This situation leads to an additional energy consumption.

Treatment which is performed to limit the heat losses and gains in buildings and installations is called "thermal insulation". Technically, thermal insulation is applied to reduce the heat transfer between two media at different temperatures. Insulation is applied most of the bigger tools/equipment. For example, insulation is applied to owens, coolers, deep-freezers and water heaters. Mostly, insulation prevents the heat loss through the environment. In other situations, it ensures protection against heat flowing from the environment. The thermal conductivity coefficients of materials are different than each other. However, only the ones thermal conductivity values (λ) of which are below 0.065 W/mK are thermal insulation materials. As to the expectations and purposes, be sure that the suitable material is used and pay attention to the insulation conditions of the material to be used.

By the application of thermal insulation, it is possible to extend the life of the building, providing healthy, comfortable environments to users and make huge savings in terms of fuel and cooling costs while using the building. In order to heat the buildings, fossil fuels are widely used. As a result of fossil fuel combustion, gases emitted as combustion products lead to air pollution and global warming. Reducing the amount of energy used in establishing the comfort conditions thanks to the thermal insulation applications, prevents global warming and air pollution from increasing. Thermal insulation which is applied to buildings as per the relevant rules has many benefits in terms or persons and countries. The most important benefit is the contribution of thermal insulation to energy savings.