What is Mineral Wool?
Mineral wool is described as insulation material made of wool of glass and stone wool. It is applicable from the cellar up to the roof in a new building or at the renovation of old buildings.
Mineral wool consists of at least 90 per cent of local mineral raw materials like limestone, feldspar, dolomite, basalt, diabase, sand and cement which are gained from natural stocks, as well as e. g. of recycled glass. The availability of the natural raw materials which are processed to mineral wool is almost unlimited. Up to seven per cent of mineral wool is of organic substance and binders which essentially consist of synthetic resin components.
The mineral raw materials are melted and then span to fibres at approx. 1400 to 1500 degrees centigrade in two different methods. A binder solved into water is sprayed on the fibres during this process. The fibres cool down fast and stiffen glassily. The binder is then hardened in a tunnel stove at approx. 250 degrees centigrade by which the products get their structure stability. Now they can be cut on measure.
What is Polystyrene?
Polystyrene is a polymer made from the monomer styrene, a liquid hydrocarbon that is commercially manufactured from petroleum by the chemical industry. At room temperature, polystyrene is normally a solid thermoplastic, but can be melted at higher temperature for molding or extrusion, then resolidified. Styrene is an aromatic monomer, and polystyrene is an aromatic polymer.
Polystyrene was accidentally discovered in 1839 by Eduard Simon, an apothecary in Berlin. By 1845 English chemist John Blyth and German chemist August Wilhelm von Hofmann showed that the same transformation of styrol took place in the absence of oxygen. The I.G. Farben company began manufacturing polystyrene in Ludwigshafen, Germany, about 1931, hoping it would be a suitable replacement for die cast zinc in many applications. Success was achieved when they developed a reactor vessel that extruded polystyrene through a heated tube and cutter, producing polystyrene in pellet form.
Pure solid polystyrene is a colorless, hard plastic with limited flexibility. It can be cast into molds with fine detail. Polystyrene can be transparent or can be made to take on various colors. It is economical and is used for producing plastic model assembly kits, license plate frames, plastic cutlery, CD „jewel“ cases, and many other objects where a fairly rigid, economical plastic of any of various colors is desired.
Polystyrene’s most common use, however, is as expanded polystyrene (EPS). Expanded polystyrene is produced from a mixture of about 90-95% polystyrene and 5-10% gaseous blowing agent, most commonly pentane or carbon dioxide. The solid plastic is expanded into a foam through the use of heat, usually steam. Extruded polystyrene (XPS), which is different from expanded polystyrene (EPS), is commonly known by the brand names Styrofoam, Fibran, etc. The voids filled with trapped air give it low thermal conductivity. This makes it ideal as a construction material and it is therefore sometimes used in structural insulated panel building systems. It is also used as insulation in building structures, as molded packing material for cushioning fragile equipment inside boxes, as packing „peanuts“, as non-weight-bearing architectural structures (such as pillars), and also in crafts and model building, particularly architectural models.
Polystyrene is classified according to DIN4102 as a „B3“ product, meaning highly flammable or „easily ignited“. Consequently, though it is an efficient insulator at low temperatures, it is prohibited from being used in any exposed installations in building construction as long the material is not flame retarded e.g. with hexabromocyclododecane. It must be concealed behind drywall, sheet metal or concrete. Foamed plastic materials have been accidentally ignited and caused huge fires and losses.
Reasons why polystyrene foam is bad for the environment and human health:
1. Toxic chemicals leach out of these products into the food that they contain. These chemicals threaten human health and reproductive systems.
2. These products are made with petroleum, a non-sustainable, heavily polluting and disappearing commodity.
3. The product does not biodegrade. It crumbles into fragments that have no expiration date.
3. A certain percentage of product will be dumped in the environment, persisting on land indefinitely as litter and breaking up into pieces that choke and clog animal digestive systems in waterways.
4. The product takes up more space in landfills than does paper and eventually will re-enter the environment when landfills are breached by water or mechanical forces.
5. Foam recycling is a public relations stunt, promoted by the chemical industries that manufacture it. This is done in highly centralized, distant facilities using complex chemical processes and expends far more energy than is ever saved by recycling the material.