Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Soy-Based Foam Insulation

Our kitchen will be the warmest and quietest place in our house, thanks to the new soy foam insulation now expanding in our walls. The stuff is really neat to see go in and even better once installed.
Soy-based foam is made by BioBased, and expands about 100 times its original size to fill every nook and cranny in the walls, better than any kind of rolled insulation. Unlike traditional fiberglass insulation, which even though it holds thermal energy in, teh foam also stops air leakage. This will be especially welcome in the cold and drafty kitchen nook addition (located over a crawlspace).

And no, just because it's made from soybeans doesn't mean it's edible to people (or critters for that matter). We chose a soy product because, while there are other spray foam insulation available, this is the only one that is not oil-based (urethane), and it is a water-based spray, so it truly is sustainable and green. It doesn't even smell bad when they're spraying it. Loking

For our project, we needed to get a minimum R-19 in the walls to meet code requirements, so we went with a "closed-cell" version, which provides an effective R-value of 5.5 per inch! What does all this mean? Well for our kitchen, we won't need to have as many heat leads cutting into the floor, and we should see a big impact in terms of lower utility bills. We may not drop 50% like a whole-house (new construction) would get, but it will still be significant for this old house.

And as we've also discovered, it's an awesome noise barrier. When we checked it out last night, the room was almost dead silent. It will be nice to not hear the ambulances running down our neighboring street on the way to the hospital anymore!

There is video on BioBased's website that shows much better than I can explain how this all works. But if you're in the Chicago area and interested in checking out soy foam insulation for your home project, I recommend contacting Renewable Resource Insulation to see how they might be able to help. One note: this does need to be applied to open-cavity walls (studs). They don't yet have a product that can be injected inside existing walls, but I'm told it's in the works.


Jim said...

How was the cost of this, compared to fiberglass? (Too late for us, at least for this phase of our remodel, but we may look into the soy-foam insulation for our later projects.)

Have y'all noticed a temperature difference yet, feeling a little snugger maybe?

-- Jim

Mabel Sugar said...

I'll let Jay speak to the cost of it, but as for the warmth, the difference is HUGE. You could almost see your breath a few days ago and now it's comfortable in there with just a sweater. YAY!

jay said...

There is going to be an initial sticker shock when I say this, but the installed cost was about three times the cost of fiberglass installed. However, it's important to think of the lifecycle cost. This is where I think like an appraiser, and think in terms of the present value of a future benefit. Lowering our operating costs (energy bills) in the future adds value, especially for the area of a crawlspace which would lose heat more rapidly if we insulated with fiberglass. So the while the initial outlay is more expensive, the long-term payback makes the investment worth it.

zinny said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

The sad thing is that this foam is still blown with HFCs which are potent greenhouse gasses. They don't deplete ozone but they do have global warming potential thousands of times higher than that of CO2. Yes, you might save enough energy to make it worth that, but we've got to develop alternatives. It's ironic that they replaced the petroleum with soy, but it's not the petroleum that's the major envronmental impact of this stuff.

Sorry to be negative--it's great to be saving energy--but the word needs to get out that this isn't a win-win on climate impacts. Rather than comparing win-lose (this) to lose-win (ordinary fiberglass), we've got to find win-win solutions (my favorite would be thick walls with cellulose insulation, but I'm not sure that's applicable here).

jay said...

Actually, the BioBased product we had installed uses water - H2O - as the blowing agent, not HFC's. So not only was the oil replaced with soy, but the blowing agent was replaced with water. I think this is a significant improvement over other foam insulation manufacturers like Icynene and the like.

Roland said...

Actually, Fiberglass is the WORST way to insulate, especially in batt form, which does not seal the house.
The raw materials to create fiberglass need to be mined; scratching the earth and requiring HUGE energy consumption to transform from raw materials to glass. Additionally, although fiberglass is technically recyclable, the manufacturers are not interested in recycling the stuff. It is too costly to clean and collect enough to recycle. Fiberglass typically spends eternity in a landfill after being removed during demolition.
When we think of materials used for anything, we need to thik of where it comes from, how much energy is consumed producing it, and where it will end up after use. THAT is "green" thinking.

Anonymous said...

Do you really know the soy content of the producT? Do you have a certificate that states the soy content in the product from the manufacturer? Is it really what they say it is or just marketing? There should be some regulations.
I went to a home show and one of the saleman said it was 70% soy content of the foam. Found out it was only 30% soy or is it even that? As a consumer we need proof we have to ask for it
and not just take their word for it.

Insulation Manufacturer said...

This Article is Helpful for Insulation Process

Nice Articles, Please post another insulation article for more knowledge about insulation

thanks in advance

Shree Ram Rockwool

Marjan said...

I'm going to link back to the article that pointed me here, because it explains in depth why a sales rep is claiming 70% Soy when it is 30%.

We're looking into using a spray on a the exterior surface of a geodesic dome. Anyone have any links to that?

Aura Photo Booths Seattle

Spray Foam Roofing said...

Spray Foam Roofing Systems provide many benefits to building owners. The two most important benefits is the value of the seal / leak prevention and insulation.

Sean said...

There are many different strategies for insulating any home, you have suggested a good thing for kitchen, it's really very warm place in home, i hope this insulation works properly. Thanks for sharing this informative post.

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