Insulation foams play a critical role in providing thermal insulation in homes and industries thus creating optimal temperatures. Insulation foams can thus be applied on the walls or roofs of buildings or other appliances thereby providing both acoustic and thermal insulation benefits. While there are diverse types of insulators that can be used, melamine foam forms the best thermal insulators. This is attributed to the foam’s light weight, semi rigid but flexible structure, and fire-retarded properties
Melamine foam plays three critical roles in thermal insulation.
Zhang et al. (2022) illustrate that melamine form acts by preventing the convection and heat transfers of air across surfaces due to its thermal conductivity of 0.25 BTU –in/ft2-hr degrees Fahrenheit at a temperature of 68 degree. This is attributed to the rigid cells structure that makes the foam stable thus does not melt or fall apart easily despite being exposed to high temperatures.
Secondly, considering that the foam’s structure contains a 98% open-cell ratio as explained by Chen et al. (2021), such allows the loss of heat through convention after the hot air or steam comes into contact with the foam. Thus, the high internal opening ratio that characterizes the foam allows the foam to block any transfer of heat by convection across the surfaces.
Also, with the low-thermal conductivity of less than 0.0035w/(m.k) as demonstrated by Chen et al. (2021), the use of melamine foam ensures that heat losses that would occur in electrical appliances (that require high heat values) such as the boiler systems or heaters is avoided.
Thirdly, after being subjected to an open flame, the foam reacts by forming a coke layer on top of the combustion surface thus preventing the entry of oxygen that would facilitate combustion. The slight burning on the combustion surface leads to the emission of nitrogen and carbon dioxide, which are denser than oxygen, thus displacing it. The coke layer formed on the combustion surface thus blocks combustion that would lead to a rise in temperatures thus offering thermal insulation, which is attributed to its highly rigid cross-linked structure system.
The foam can be used in different occasions considering its major property whereby it can withstand extremely low and high temperatures.
Zhang et al. (2022) illustrate that the foam can withstand extremely temperatures (as low as negative 300 degrees Fahrenheit) to extremely high temperatures (as high as 356 degrees Fahrenheit) with an intermittent temperature range above 400 degree Fahrenheit thus making it resistant to melting in open flames.
Thus, it is applicable in bullet trains and electrical appliances considering that its fire-retarded properties attributed to the high nitrogen content in the foam. Thus, while using this foam, there is no need to use fire retarders.
In addition, the low density of melamine foam allows it to be used in aircraft and rail transit for thermal insulation thereby offering travelers appropriate room temperatures that justify comfort. Also, it is used as an insulator in steam and water pipes as well as in the heating and boiler systems considering that it does not emit chemicals after being exposed to high temperatures.
The highly flexible nature of the foam that retains its properties upon being subjected to a wide range of temperature allows its effective use in insulating liquefied natural gas tanks. It can also effectively be used for insulation in industrial tanks used for storing corrosive acids and bases. This is considering that it is does not dissolve in organic solvents due to the highly rigid, cross-linked structure.
In conclusion, the excellent melamine foam properties make it suitable for diverse applications/occasions. Such properties include its high versatility, high flexibility over a wide range of temperatures, low density, and fire-retarded properties. Thus, it applied in various areas such as in military, air and rail transit industries, manufacturing and processing applications, and domestic settings.