Technology

A coat for the house

 By Gabriella Galloro

Extir® Galileo, the new frontier for domestic thermal insulation, is the result of research by Eni Versalis. The target is to be able to build zero emissions homes and offices by 2020…

In winter, when it’s cold outside and we just have to go out for something important, without thinking twice we put on our warmest coat and face the weather. So how come no one ever thought about doing the same with our homes? Giving them a coat … and why not, even a red one, with a nice hood even a little worn … It seems like reading a book by Gianni Rodari, but in fact a coat already exists and today we want to talk about how the latest frontier has been reached by an Italian company: Eni Versalis.

Coat insulation, more technically known as “External Thermal Insulation Composite System” (ETICS), which is more common abroad than in Italy, is a composite system in which the insulation (EPS) is fixed to the wall with a glue that ensures thermal continuity between the insulation and masonry, while a mechanical seal is provided by special dowels. The external finish, which is almost always made of a plaster to give the wall a traditional look, is reinforced by a fiberglass mesh that “protects” and provides shock resistance.

For many years, Eni Versalis has been involved in EPS production with its Extir® brand products, and ten years ago it even developed a more efficient foam polystyrene foam to limit thermal dispersion as much as possible

But why improve thermal insulation? Because it means reducing fuel consumption and, more generally, lowering CO2 emissions. Today, even the building sector has the goal of creating zero-emission buildings by 2020, and this new challenge also involves insulating materials, from which obviously much is expected. The demand is twofold: on the one hand, systems that can respond adequately to the need to reduce energy consumption, and, on the other, that such products maintain their thermal properties over time.

As we said, the new frontier is entirely Italian. In Europe, the most widely used solution for thermal insulation is polystyrene foam (EPS), which is preferred to other solutions for its economic and environmental sustainability. For many years, Eni Versalis has been involved in EPS production with its Extir® brand products, and ten years ago it even developed a more efficient foam polystyrene foam to limit thermal dispersion as much as possible. During the research phase the most striking factor for the researchers was colour change. In fact, the use of a particular additive that reduces heat transmission, made the polystyrene turn grey. “It was as if we had inserted aluminium foil inside the polystyrene.” With this simple image, Gilberto Frigerio, head of the Galileo Extir® project, gave me a brief summary of all the work they have done. For a moment, it was a bit like going back to your grandmother’s old house and seeing the hardboard behind the radiator that kept the room warm.
Perhaps also this time, considering popular wisdom helped to make a big leap forward.

Domestic thermal insulation in a 30 seconds adv spot

SEE MORE: Saving energy with better building management by Benjamin Plackett

about the author
Gabriella Galloro