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Old 10-21-09, 08:05 PM   #11
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Default air migration, Pearlite, trash sequestration, etc.

Originally Posted by Pierre View Post
Energy Savers: Polystyrene Insulation Materials
this link from EPA states loose fill styro has an r-value of 2.3 per inch. isnt that quite a bit lower than cellulose?
If you are referring to my experiment, you are correct. However, the small particle styrofoam that I used had a high content of very small pieces that filled the voids between the styro peanuts. I ground the styro myself and it was a terrible mess, due to static cling. After the experiment, I was dis-inclined to use ground styrofoam for that reason, but it taught me about the importance of reducing air migration through insulation. I also tried Pearlite as a void filler.

It made an amazing difference.

But after all the hassle, cellulose is attractive due to good R-value, low cost, low carbon footprint in manufacturing, and the fact that it is sequestered carbon.

However, if you can get free styro chunks, in sufficient volume, it might be worthwhile. The ground up small-bit styro static-cling was a major hassle. To fill the voids, you might check into a light weight aggregate called 'Pearlite'. I think it is used for adding to concrete to make a very light weight concrete, it may also be used to mix with potting soil as a light weight water-retaining filler. I did experiments with adding Pearlite to the styro-peanuts and it was as good as ground up styro, with no static cling.

I don't know how big your garage is, and how much cavity space you intend to fill, but if I were you, I'd get a small quantity of Pearlite and about an equal quantity of the styro chunks you intend to use and mix them together so you can find out how much Pearlite will be required to fill the spaces between the styrofoam chunks. From that you could estimate your cost.

One admonition I would share with you is that there is signifignt nasty dust associated with the Pearlite, and you will want to wear a good particle mask when you mix the stuff, even a small batch.

Also think ahead to any in-wall wiring you may want. After you fill the wall with insulation, opening up the wall becomes unattractive.

BTW, another filler you might consider is bean bag chair filler. It is styrofoam about the size of green peas.

Also Vermiculite as a filler.

I do think that it is a very good idea if you can find a waste product, especially if it free, an especially if it is a top flight insulating material. It's a triple win.

There's been a good bit of talk about carbon sequestration, but not so much about trash sequestration...




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Old 10-22-09, 10:50 AM   #12
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AC, this is very interesting.

I will be spreading loose fill in my garages attic. I need a total of 440 ft3 (12 inches thickness, 28 * 16 attic space)

I have 20 ft3 of styro peanuts, 240 ft3 of ground styro grains. I was thinking of spreading this on the attic floor, and then topping it off with 180 ft3 of cellulose. Or would it be better to mix it all together to minimize gaps within the styro layer?
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Old 10-23-09, 01:31 PM   #13
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Your application is a bit different from mine. I have a balloon frame house that had no insulation, and I had access to the top of the cavity, so I poured the styro and the void filler in at the same time and used a stick every foot or so, to kind of 'stir' things up in order to help the filler material intersperse with the styro peanuts.

I think what I would do in your case is to put down about half of your cellulose fill first, then add your styro peanut/filler material on top of that and then finish off with a layer of cellulose. Or maybe as you suggested, mix them all up to gether.

Also, at the time I was doing my experiments, the packing peanuts were all made of styrofoam. Now, puffed-up corn starch is also being used. I have no idea how good an insulator the corn-starch peanuts are, or if they could become food for insects.

By the way, if the 'static cling' becomes an issue with the ground styro-grains, you might try misting in a small amount of water into the styro grains bag a day or so before you use it, to neutralize the static charge.

Please take photos of the operation, I wanna see...



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fiberglass, insulation, r-value

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