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 Do Certain Fabrics Hold Warmth?
What Are Insulators?
What Is the Difference Between Permeable & Impermeable?
How Does a Styrofoam Cooler Keep Things Cold?
The Best Insulators to Keep Water Hot
Why Is Styrofoam a Good Insulator?
List Of Conductors
What Is the Difference Between Resistivity & Conductivity?
Uses for Petroleum Coke
How to Calculate CFM to MPH
Which Burns Hotter: Ethanol or Methanol?
Difference Between Polystyrene & Polyurethane
How to Shrink Rubber Bands
SDR-35 PVC Pipe Specifications
Thermal Properties of Paper
How to Find the Mole Fraction
Properties of Natural & Synthetic Rubber
What Are Two Major Characteristics of a Molecular Compound?
How to Convert GPM to Cooling Rate in Tons
Does Oil Dissolve Rubber Gloves?