the history

of insulation

Mineral Wool is produced commercially for the first time in Georgsmarienhütte Osnabrück, Germany. 

1871

1932

FIBERGLASS: How An Accidental Discovery Leads To A New Era Of Insulation.

1956

PINK

Owens-Corning begins adding red dye to the naturally yellowish colored insulation.

The energy crisis of the 1970s gives rise to the use of cellulose insulation.

1970

1980

Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) Insulation begins to be used in commercial and residential construction. 

1870

John Player patents the process for making mineral wool insulation

1897

American chemical engineer Charles Corydon develops a technology that initiates the Mineral Wool insulation industry in America.

1938

Owens-Illinois Glass Company and Corning Glass Works merge to become Owens-Corning. 

1960

Radiant Barrier:  

NASA uses an aluminum covered mylar on their Echo I communications satellite.

1975-1978

Congress passes legislation establishing energy codes as mandatory and enforceable.  The "R-Value Rule" is created for insulation.

The Future Of Inslation

It is estimated that over 93% of new construction projects will utilize fiberglass or polyurethane spray foam insulation.

1870

MINERAL WOOL [ROCKWOOL] INSULATION

John Player patents the process of creating Mineral Wool insulation from finely woven molten glass and stone.

1871

MINERAL WOOL [ROCKWOOL] INSULATION

Mineral Wool is produced commercially for the first time in Georgsmarienhütte Osnabrück Germany. 

1897

MINERAL WOOL [ROCKWOOL] INSULATION

American chemical engineer Charles Corydon Hall in 1897 developed a technology to convert molten limestone into fibers and initiated the rock wool insulation industry in America.


However, it wasn't until 1938 that the first fiberglass insulation was produced.

1897

MINERAL WOOL [ROCKWOOL] INSULATION

HOW IT WAS MADE

Mineral Wool (Rockwool) was originally made from quarried limestone.  Today, Mineral Wool (Rockwool) is made from saltrock and slag.  

 

Saltrock is solidified lava that is formed when rock melts underground and then quickly cools.   

 

Slag is the stony waste matter separated from metals during the smelting or refining of ore.

 

The saltrock and slag are then deposited into cupola furnaces that have been heated to over 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit.    

 

Once the saltrock and slag reach the proper temperature, they will turn to liquid molten lava.  The molten lava is then channeled onto high-speed spinning wheels.

 

As the molten lava is spun, a glue-like substance is applied while it is rapidly air cooled and collected in a large chamber.

 

The collected fibers form a mat-like substance that is passed under large rollers and put into a 450-degree oven where the Mineral Wool (Rockwool) insulation is cured and compressed.  

 

The Mineral Wool (Rockwool) insulation is then cut, packaged, and ready for use.

1932

Fiberglass:  How An Accidental Discovery Leads To A New Era Of Insulation.

At Owens-Illinois Glass Company in 1932, researcher Dale Kleist was attempting to make transparent weatherproof walls.  In the process of sealing together the architectural walls by spraying them with molten glass, a jet stream of compressed air hit the molten glass and created a shower of tiny glass fibers.

The product would go on to be patented under the name Fiberglas.

1935-1938

OWENS-CORNING IS FORMED

In 1935 Owens-Illinois Glass Company joined Corning Glass Works.

In 1936 Owens-Illinois Glass Company and Corning Glass Works patent Dale Kleist product “Fiberglas” [Fiberglas US Patent No. 2,121,802].

In 1938 Owens-Illinois Glass Company and Corning Glass Works merge to become Owens-Corning.

In 1938, Owens-Corning company sales reached $2.6 million [the equivalent to $35,017,142.86 today].

Owens Corning will go on to become the world’s number one producer of fiberglass and residential insulation.

As of 2018, Owens Corning has been recognized as a Fortune 500 company for 64 consecutive years.

1956

PINK

Beginning in 1956 Owens-Corning started adding red dye to the naturally yellowish insulation in order to distinguish its product from its competitors.


In 1980 Owens-Corning adopted the Pink Panther as its mascot.


The bright pink color became such a marketable feature that PINK became a registered trademark for Owens-Corning in 1985.  

1960

Reflective Insulation [Radiant Barrier]

In 1960 NASA launches Echo I with a newly designed aluminum covered polyester mylar to shield the satellite from the damaging thermal radiant heat of the sun.   


The reflective insulation is able to reject 97% of the radiant heat transfer, which leads to the product being given the name “Radiant Barrier.” 


Soon thereafter, reflective insulation and radiant barrier begin being used for commercial and residential purposes. 


In 1978 RIMA International [Reflective Insulation Manufacturers Association] is established.  
RIMA International is formed to create performance standards and testing procedures for the reflective insulation and radiant barrier industry.  


RIMA International contributes to the development of building codes and participates with RESNET’s Technical Committee on Insulation. 


With the rising cost of energy, reflective insulation and radiant barrier technology continues to grow in popularity and demand.  


Market research is projecting the global market value of reflective insulation and radiant barrier to increase by 116% over the next ten years.

1970

Cellulose Insulation

The energy crisis of the 1970s gives rise to the use of cellulose insulation.


Cellulose insulation is made from newspaper, cardboard, straw, sawdust, or cotton.


Cellulose insulation is one of the earliest forms of insulation, but early on it was used infrequently due to its composition being considered very flammable. 


In 1976 there were approximately 100 cellulose insulation manufacturers with 125 plants.


In 1978 there were more than 350 cellulose insulation manufacturers with more than 500 plants.


In the late 1970s, Congress passed new energy policies and regulations.  These policies lead to enforceable standards for insulation, which caused a sharp decline in the use of cellulose insulation due to the safety concerns of its flammability.  


By 1991 there were only 61 cellulose insulation manufacturers still remaining.


Today's cellulose insulation is safe and environmentally friendly.  It is made from recycled paper products and treated with boron to make it fire retardant. 

1978

Energy Codes & Standards

Due to the energy crisis of the 1970s, Congress begins taking legislative action to mandate energy efficiency standards and regulations.

In 1975, Congress passed the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, and directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop test procedures for measuring the energy efficiency of appliances.

In 1977 the U.S. Department of Energy is created. 

In 1978 Congress passes the National Energy Conservation Policy Act.  This policy gives the U.S. Department of Energy the authority to set minimum energy performance standards, and makes federal energy standards mandatory and enforceable.

  

Additional legislation is passed in 1978 establishing standards for insulation.  The “R-Value Rule,” establishes guidelines that limit the claims manufacturers can make about their product. 

1980

Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation 

In 1937 Polyurethane is manufactured for the first time by Otto Bayer and his colleagues at IG Farben in Leverkusen, Germany.


From 1939-1945 during WWII, the military begins using Polyurethane as a replacement for rubber.


In 1952 Polyisocyanates become available for commercial use.  


In 1954 flexible polyurethane, Toluene Diisocyanate (TDI), is produced through the nitration of toluene.


In 1967 rigid foam insulation is developed using Methylenediphenyl Diisocyanate (MDI) during the polyurethane production process, creating a polyurethane foam that offered greater thermal resistance. 


In 1980 Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation begins to be used in commercial and residential construction. 

2020 & Beyond

The Future Of Insulation

In 2017 the global insulation market was valued at $52.30 billion.  With a forecasted (CAGR) of 8.6%, the global insulation market is projected to swell to a value of over $100 billion by 2025 [Grandview Research Group].

According to the Freedonia Group, the growing demand for new construction and more stringent energy policies will drive the global insulation market.

Studies show that an estimated 2 billion homes will be needed to accommodate the global population increase over the next 80 years.  According to the UN, the world population is expected to reach over 11.2 billion people by the year 2100.

New International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) mandates will call for a 30% increase in insulation for new construction.  Code changes will also require homes to be better sealed to prevent energy loss through air leaks.

It is estimated that over 93% of new construction projects will utilize fiberglass or polyurethane spray foam insulation.

  • Fiberglass will remain the insulation market leader due to its low cost, effectiveness, and ease of installation.

  • Polyurethane spray foam insulation will continue to grow in popularity because of its high R-Values, and its effectiveness at sealing air leaks.  

 

The future of insulation is expected to be dominated by these two types of insulation.  Insulation will continue to be one of the most effective ways to optimize energy efficiency.

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