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Introduction to Polyurethanes in Construction

Program number AIA001

Course Description

This program commences with an overview of insulation systems, investigating different types of insulation, their performance, and how they compare to polyurethane technology.  Particular attention is then given to polyurethane foams, exploring their development and providing an opportunity to examine samples of open-cell and closed-cell urethanes.  An in-depth look at the material itself considers plastics, densities, blowing agents, and zero ozone depletion potential (ODP) closed-cell urethanes. The environmental advantages of the improved formulations of essential blowing agent, are elaborated on.  Basic code issues involving fire protection, ventilation, and R-Value drift are discussed. Health, safety and welfare issues are dealt with as the applied uses of polyurethane foams in thermal envelopes are explained. The purpose of the thermal envelope and how it functions properly is elaborated on, providing the context for explaining how polyurethane foams are installed and how quality-control measures are executed.  Air quality exposition focuses on fresh air from active and passive ventilation systems; make-up air for combustion appliances; and indoor air quality problems from the envelope cavity itself (condensation, vermin, fibers, and out-gassing). A slide presentation and demonstration of specialized testing equipment supplement this program.  Case studies are included to demonstrate various field applications of polyurethane foam.


Henri C. Fennell is President of Building Envelope Services, Inc. & FOAM-TECH, North Thetford, Vermont, USA.

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