Worlds of David Darling
Encyclopedia of Science
   
Home > Encyclopedia of Alternative Energy

expanded polystyrene (EPS)





expanded polystyrene
A type of insulation that is molded or expanded to produce coarse, closed cells containing air. The rigid cellular structure provides thermal and acoustical insulation, strength with low weight, and coverage with few heat loss paths. Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is often used to insulate the interior of masonry basement walls. Unlike the other common form of polystyrene, extruded polystyrene, EPS is not made using chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are harmful to the environment. In the case of EPS, the expansion agent is pentane.

Like all plastics, EPS foam is recyclable. Since EPS foam does not biodegrade, it is benign to the environment and provides a stable fill material similar to earth, rock or concrete. This allows for safe landfill reclamation for parks, schools, ball fields, golf courses, and other public or greenbelt utilization. Our goal, however, should be to limit materials from getting to the landfill through source reduction, aggressive recycling, and other environmentally sound waste management programs.

EPS foam products whether used for insulation or packaging are lightweight, versatile, sanitary, energy efficient, and most of all cost effective. The manufacture of EPS foam uses less energy than that used in the manufacture of paper based alternatives. According to The Midwest Research Institute study on special packaging applications, the total energy requirements to make plastic containers (including both processing and materials energy) were lower than or equal to the energy consumed to make competing materials.


Related category

   • INSULATION TOPICS