Properties of Thermal Insulators

Foam is a popular thermal insulator often used in home construction.
••• Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Thermal insulators are meant to reduce the rate of heat transfer by conduction, convention and radiation -- the standard methods by which heat transfers. This can be either in order to prevent heat loss or to keep heat out. In order to do this, all insulators share certain properties.

Thermal Conductivity

The best thermal insulators have the lowest thermal conductivity; this is the property of a material that measures how well it can conduct heat through its mass. The lower the conductivity measure, the less well a material is able to conduct heat, thus enabling it to trap heat or protect contents from outside heat.

Heat Resistance

Thermal insulators should also be resistant to heat, since they will likely be subject to heat on their surfaces because of the inability of heat to move through them. A thermal insulator without a high heat resistance quotient runs the risk of melting or burning.

Air Permeability

Air permeability is the property of a material to allow air to pass through its weave or pores. It is often attributed to materials such as those used in the manufacture of clothing. High air permeability means a lower level of thermal conductivity.

Thermo-Insulating Materials

Based mainly on thermal conductivity, some of the best and most common thermal insulation materials include fiberglass, which is made of spun threads of melted and fluffed glass, and foam, which has pockets of gas that do not conduct heat well.

Related Articles

How Does a Styrofoam Cooler Keep Things Cold?
What Are Insulators?
What Is the Difference Between Permeable & Impermeable?
The Best Insulators to Keep Water Hot
How to Shrink Rubber Bands
How Do Certain Fabrics Hold Warmth?
Difference Between Polystyrene & Polyurethane
Uses for Petroleum Coke
Which Burns Hotter: Ethanol or Methanol?
Characteristics of Aquatic Plants
What Is the Difference Between Resistivity & Conductivity?
Why Is Styrofoam a Good Insulator?
How to Calculate CFM to MPH
Thermal Properties of Paper
Properties & Uses for the 4340 Grades of Steel
How to Distill Oil Using a Coffee Pot
Difference Between 316 & 308 Stainless Steel
SDR-35 PVC Pipe Specifications
Properties of Natural & Synthetic Rubber
How to Test a Blower Resistor

Dont Go!

We Have More Great Sciencing Articles!