Vacuum insulation in buildings : Means to prolong service life

Abstract: Vacuum insulation panels, VIPs, constitute a new insulation material, 6 to 8 times better than traditional insulation materials, which utilizes the positive influence vacuum has on the thermal properties of certain materials. A VIP is a composite with a flat core enclosed by an envelope preventing the core to fill with gas. The vacuum in the core is vital to reach thermal conductivities down to 0,0035 W/(m K), if the vacuum is lost the panel has reached the end of its service life time. Metal sheets would the preferred material to create an impermeable envelope but would creates a large thermal bridge at the edges of a panel when it folds over the edges of the panel. A serpentine edge has been proposed in order to deal with this large thermal bridge. This serpentine edge has been evaluated first as a numeric model in software and then by measuring on a prototype edge element in a hot and cold plate instrument. Measured temperatures were used to validate the numerical model. Results show that a serpentine edge can greatly reduce the thermal bridge if designed correctly. Another direction taken in the development of the VIP barrier is to use very thin metal layers, metallization layer or coating, incorporated into multi layered polymer composite film. This creates barrier films with very good barrier properties and only small thermal bridges. The modeling of gas flux through films with more than one coating has only just started. Existing models for flux through multi coated films all assume that flux is only taking place through defects in the coating layers, that all defects are of the same size and that all defects are positioned in square lattices. The model discussed herein use the same assumption of flux through pinholes only but it does take defect sizes and positions into account. Barrier film, from a regular vacuum insulation panel, with double coatings has been evaluated in light microscopy to characterize the defects in each of the coatings. The data found have been fed into the model and the results comply well with reported permeabilities of similar barrier films.