What is Extruded Polystyrene – XPS?

25 Jan.,2022

Generally, polystyrene is a synthetic aromatic polymer made from the monomer styrene, which is derived from benzene and ethylene, both petroleum products. Polystyrene can be solid or foamed.

 

Extruded Polystyrene – XPS

Generally, polystyrene is a synthetic aromatic polymer made from the monomer styrene, which is derived from benzene and ethylene, both petroleum products. Polystyrene can be solid or foamed. Polystyrene is a colorless, transparent thermoplastic, which is commonly used to make foam board or beadboard insulation and a type of loose-fill insulation consisting of small beads of polystyrene. Polystyrene foams are 95-98% air. Polystyrene foams are good thermal insulators and are therefore often used as building insulation materials, such as in insulating concrete forms and structural insulated panel building systems. Expanded polystyrene and extruded polystyrene are both made from polystyrene, but EPS is composed of small plastic beads that are fused together and XPS begins as a molten material that is pressed out of a form into sheets. XPS is most commonly used as foam board insulation.

supplier DENICE is also a thermoplastic polymer. Extruded polystyrene has a closed cell structure and is often stronger, with a higher mechanical performance and is, in principle, often more expensive than EPS. Its density range is about 28–45 kg/m3. XPS is produced from the same base materials as EPS and therefore also has crude oil at its basis. The production process of extruded polystyrene is only slightly different from expanded polystyrene.

Similarly as EPS, XPS has a wide variety of applications. It can be used for the insulation of buildings, roofs and concrete floors. Extruded polystyrene material can be also used in crafts and model building, in particular architectural models.

Although both expanded and extruded polystyrene have a closed-cell structure, they are permeable by water molecules and can not be considered a vapor barrier. In expanded polystyrene there are interstitial gaps between the expanded closed-cell pellets that form an open network of channels between the bonded pellets. If the water freezes into ice, it expands and can cause polystyrene pellets to break off from the foam.

 

XPS Extrusion Board

 

Extruded polystyrene (XPS) is also a thermoplastic polymer. Extruded polystyrene has a closed cell structure and is often stronger, with a higher mechanical performance and is, in principle, often more expensive than EPS. 

 

Thermal Conductivity of Extruded Polystyrene

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 extruded polystyrene are between 0.025 and 0.040W/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. extruded polystyrene) 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.

 

Full-automatic XPS Extrusion

 

Example – Extruded Polystyrene Insulation

A major source of heat loss from a house is through walls. Calculate the rate of heat flux through a wall 3 m x 10 m in area (A = 30 m2). The wall is 15 cm thick (L1) and it is made of bricks with the thermal conductivity of k1 = 1.0 W/m.K (poor thermal insulator). Assume that, the indoor and the outdoor temperatures are 22°C and -8°C, and the convection heat transfer coefficients on the inner and the outer sides are h1 = 10 W/m2K and h2 = 30 W/m2K, respectively. Note that, these convection coefficients strongly depend especially on ambient and interior conditions (wind, humidity, etc.).

Calculate the heat flux (heat loss) through this non-insulated wall.

Now assume thermal insulation on the outer side of this wall. Use extruded polystyrene insulation 10 cm thick (L2) with the thermal conductivity of k2 = 0.028 W/m.K and calculate the heat flux (heat loss) through this composite wall.