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Continued Healthy
The swimming houses of the lake of Geierswald
Growth. Climate change in the Federal State of Brandenburg, Germany,
are insulated by extruded polystyrene foam
and the need to conserve (photo: BASF)

energy will ensure healthy

growth for rigid poly-
styrene foam in the years
to come. On the one
hand, ever tougher regu-
latory requirements con-
cerning thermal insula-
tion are contributing to
rising demand. On the
other, it can be assumed that the good insulating properties of this material will
be utilized more extensively to reduce the energy expense of inside air-condition-
ing in tropical and sub-tropical regions.

Rigid Polystyrene Foam

HELMUT WINTERLING with the Passivhaus Institute can be saved in Mumbai or food or medicine, EPS is the
NATALIE SONNTAG of Darmstadt, Germany, has Singapore [1]. material of preference. Beyond
shown, for example, that up to Whether as packaging for this, and due to its specific
olystyrene remains the about 60 % of the energy re- shock-sensitive goods, as ther- property profile (Table 1), rigid

P unchallenged number
one when it comes to
modernizing old buildings or
quired for sensitive cooling

mal insulated packaging for

styrene foam is used in various
special applications, e.g., bowls
for cultivating plants.
insulating new ones efficiently
Thermal conductivity [W/(m k)] 0.031*) – 0.045 0.035 – 0.045
– whether in the form of parti- Manufacturers, Capac-
cle foam from expandable Density [kg/m3] 10 – 35 25 – 45 ities and Consumption
styrene granulate (EPS) or from Compressive strength at
extruded rigid foam (XPS). 0.07 – 0.26 0.15 – 0.70 Expandable polystyrene
10 % deformation [MPa]
But polystyrene foam ma- (EPS): Table 2 reflects the enor-
Allowable compressive stress
terials provide excellent insu- at pressure load 0.012 – 0.11 0.06 – 0.25 mous growth that has taken
lation not only against cold, (50 years, < 2 % deformation) [MPa] place in the EPS market in the
but against heat as well. A last decade: Whereas world-
Heat capacity [J/(kg K)] 1,500 1,500
study contracted by BASF SE wide consumption in 2001 still
of Ludwigshafen, Germany, Water vapor diffusion resistance — 20 – 100 80 – 200 stood at 3.251 million t, it has
B1 flame retardant (D) increased by nearly 80 % to
Translated from Kunststoffe 10/2011, Building material class — 5.833 million t in 2011. In this
E (European classification)
pp. 32–37. Article as PDF-File at period,Asian growth was a dis-
* This low value applies to EPS with graphite content; proportional 110 %. The in-
Document Number: PE110869 Table 1. Specific properties of EPS and XPS crease in Europe (including

18 © Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich Kunststoffe international 10/2011

W 2011 Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich, Germany Not for use in internet or intranet sites. Not for electronic distribution
Commodity Plastics TREND REPORT

Consumption [million t] The 20 % consumption for

packaging in Europe is the
Region 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009 2011
smallest portion worldwide. By
Asia 1.447 1.903 1.943 2.330 2.493 3.079 contrast, it is nearly half in Asia.
Europe (incl. Russia) 1.118 1.100 1.266 1.624 1.614 1.801
There they use large quantities
of EPS to protect white goods
North America 0.518 0.551 0.640 0.610 0.488 0.513 and electrical and electronic
Rest of the world 0.168 0.211 0.250 0.347 0.382 0.440 products for shipment – in
Japan also to make boxes for
Global consumption 3.251 3.765 4.099 4.911 4.977 5.833
shipping fish.Among other ap-
Table 2. Global EPS consumption between 2001 and 2011 (source: CMAI) plications, North America is es-
pecially strong, where there is a
Russia) was around 60 %, (cf. Fig. 1). Thus no bottlenecks and Xingda produce exclusive- large market for EPS cups for
while EPS consumption in are to be feared in Asia, in par- ly in Asia, whereas BASF has hot beverages. In all regions, it
North America, contrary to the ticular, considering announce- capacities in all regions of the is expected that applications of
general trend, stagnated. Con- ments by several manufactur- world. EPS in building construction
sequently, Asia is the largest ers of considerably expanded There are also large regional will increase faster than in the
customer with currently 53 % capacities. The worldwide differences regarding the main packaging sector.
of global consumption, far be- largest EPS manufacturers are applications of EPS. In Europe, Extruded polystyrene
yond Europe’s 31 % (Fig. 1). the Taiwanese Loyal Group, nearly 80 % of EPS consump- foam (XPS): XPS consump-
In order to produce the Taipei, Taiwan, with a total an- tion goes into building con- tion grew approx. 4 % on the
5.833 million t consumed in nual capacity of 1.26 million t, struction, whereas this portion average in recent years and has
2011, there are capacities total- Wuxi Xingda, Wuxi, China, lies around 50 % in the rest of reached a volume of some
ing 9.676 million t (Table 3). By (0.9 millions t/a), BASF the world (Fig. 2). With 41 % 30 million m3 worldwide. Its
far the greatest EPS capacities (0.8 million t/a) (Table 4) and consumption for applications most important markets are
can be found in Asia: 6.694 Ineos Styrenics, Channahon, in building construction is es- China, the USA, Russia,
million t, or 69 % of the total USA, (0.4 million t/a). Loyal pecially low in North America. Turkey, Japan, Germany, Italy
and Korea. About 50 % of
Nominal capacity [million t] global demand comes from
(incl. internal consumption) Europe (including Russia and
Region 2005 2007 2009 2011 2013 2015
Turkey). The Eastern Euro-
pean demand curve for insula-
India 0.051 0.054 0.076 0.151 0.171 0.171 tion is continuing to rise.
Compared to EPS board,
Northern Asia 3.461 3.789 4.752 6.316 6.963 6.963
XPS board provides greater
Southeast Asia 0.241 0.247 0.255 0.227 0.212 0.212 compressive strength perpen-
dicular to the board plane with
Western Europe 1.197 1.395 1.542 1.560 1.693 1.760 no loss in elasticity, as well as a
Central Europe 0.199 0.213 0.293 0.303 0.303 0.303
closed-cell, i.e., water repellant
surface texture. Therefore, it is
CIS and Baltic States 0.176 0.186 0.186 0.236 0.286 0.286 preferred for insulating flat
roofs, perimeters, facades and
North America 0.680 0.682 0.627 0.630 0.630 0.630
– due to its good mechanical
South America 0.187 0.183 0.193 0.193 0.193 0.193 properties – also as loadbear-
ing insulation material in civil
Middle East 0.035 0.035 0.060 0.060 0.060 0.060 engineering. Thanks to its low
Global capacity 6.227 6.784 7.984 9.676 10.511 10.578
weight, XPS board is also used
as substrate in composite com-
Table 3. Global EPS capacity between 2005 and 2015 (source: CMAI) ponents. Because the shipping >

Global consumption Global capacity

5.833 million t /a 9.676 million t /a

Rest of the world Rest of the world 2.6 %

7.5 % Europe (incl.
Russia) 21.7 %
Europe (incl. Asia 52.8 %
Russia) 30.9 % North America
6.5 % Asia 69.2 %

North America
8.8 %
© Kunststoffe

Fig. 1. Global EPS consumption (left) and capacities (right) according to regions (as of mid-2011) (source: CMAI)

Kunststoffe international 10/2011 19

W 2011 Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich, Germany Not for use in internet or intranet sites. Not for electronic distribution

Neopor and approved by the

1.742 2.878 0.498 0.409 Total consumption in million t/a Deutsches Institut für Bau-
100 0.038 0.084
0.049 technik (German Institute for
% 0.347 0.146 Building Technology) provides
Fig. 2. Global EPS 1.364 0.138 very good thermal insulation
consumption in
(λR = 0.032 W/m· K) and con-

2010 according 0.146 siderable freedom to create in-

to areas of Building construction dividual, high-quality and, at
40 1.357
application the same time, weather resist-
1.430 0.222
(source: CMAI)
20 0.206
ant facade coverings. This mul-
ti-layer outer wall construc-
tion, consisting of insulation
Europe (incl. Asia North America Rest of board, wood sub-structure
Russia) the world
© Kunststoffe
with air gap and exterior
cladding, is moisture resistant
and thus dimensionally stable,
cost represents a relatively high The first EPS with clearly ergy cost of air-conditioning. as well as resistant to aging and
percentage of overall costs, the improved insulation perform- Consequently, it can be expect- degradation. It can be mount-
XPS market tends to be region- ance has been marketed by ed that insulation in hot cli- ed simply and quickly and, if
ally structured. BASF under the brand name mate zones will become in- required, removed and reused.
Total annual global capaci- Neopor – this is made possible creasingly significant. In the packaging market,
ty for XPS board currently by the inclusion of finely dis- The trend toward materials EPS has held a firm position
runs over 30 million m3, or 0.9 tributed graphite particles that with better insulating strength for many years due to its low
million t per year. The most reflect radiant heat like tiny has not run out. Novel materi- weight and good thermal insu-
important manufacturers are mirrors, thus reducing heat als are under development that lation. Thanks to it high insu-
Dow, Midland, USA, Owens loss. It provides up to 20 % bet- aim at thermal conductivities lating capacity, it enables an
Corning, Toledo, USA, BASF, ter insulation performance below 0.020 W/m · K. Their unbroken cold chain for
Ludwigshafen, Germany, and than conventional EPS. Mean- use potential lies especially in salmon from the fish farm to
Ursa, Montabaur, Germany. while, other suppliers have special applications with spa- the consumer – even when
European manufacturers’ introduced their own EPS tial limitations. shipped long distances by air.
share of global capacity is esti- types with improved insulation Among intelligent systems, A promising new develop-
mated between 40 and 50 %. performance, e. g., Sunpor’s there are also new develop- ment, E-por tough-elastic
Lambdapor, St. Pölten,Austria, ments in insulation. One such foam, has been landed by
Price Development for and Ineos Styrenics with Silver. example is Lambda Vento, a BASF and introduced at the
EPS and XPS Even in Southern European patented facade system by K 2010. It offers all the advan-
countries (Turkey, Italy and Swisspor Kunststoff GesmbH., tages of classic Styropor and,
The prices for EPS, as well as Spain), a trend toward higher the manufacturer of insulation like it, can also be transport-
for XPS, have recovered standards of insulation is materials in Steinhausen, ed, stored, processed and re-
strongly from a low position in showing that not only con- Switzerland (Fig. 3). The back- cycled. The material features
2008, and the price per ton of tributes to lower heating costs, ventilated curtain facade with very good surface fusion, ex-
EPS currently stands at ap- but also helps to lower the en- insulation board made from cellent resistance to solvents,
prox. 1,500 EUR. Even so, the as well as pleasing optics and
branch is still calculating with Nominal capacity haptics. Its high crack resist-
unsatisfactory margins, since 2011 [million t] ance make it multiple shock
economic recovery has been resistant. Thus it is suitable
BASF 0.400
accompanied by strong in- above all as transport packag-
creases in raw material prices, Ineos Styrenics 0.415 ing for high-quality, shock
too. Sunpor 0.175 sensitive electrical and elec-
tronics products. Moreover,
Synthos 0.200
New Products and Table 4. European the material has the advantage
Markets EPS producers and Polimeri ( incl. Dunastyr) 0.140 that it can be shipped and
their nominal capaci- Styrochem 0.100 stored at room temperature
Expandable polystyrene ties (incl. internal
Monotez (without Eastchem) 0.070
and is then foamed with min-
(EPS): In the field of facade in- consumption) imal steam requirements by
sulation and full thermal pro- Sunde 0.135 the packaging manufacturer
tection, EPS products with im- Styron (previously Dow) 0.055 on site.
proved insulation perform- Knauf 0.060 Extruded polystyrene
ance are finding increasingly foam (XPS): XPS develop-
widespread use in Germany, Synbra 0.060 ments are also tending toward
Austria and Switzerland. En- Jackon 0.085 greater thermal insulation.
hanced EPS is being used more Others 0.458 Here two strategies are being
and more often in flat roof ap- pursued: higher lambda values
Total 2.353
plications. and thicker boards.

20 © Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich Kunststoffe international 10/2011

W 2011 Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich, Germany Not for use in internet or intranet sites. Not for electronic distribution
Commodity Plastics TREND REPORT

ally be freely programmed to set carbons (HFKW) are still being

product properties according to used here and there, but are of
specification and monitor all only secondary significance
operating data. As with all de- nowadays.The Bundestag (Ger-
signers of plastics machines,fur- man government) is consider-
ther developments are aimed at ing prohibiting them. The
optimizing production process- greenhouse potential arising
es, increasing energy efficiency, during the manufacture of
shortening cycle times, mini- CO2-foamed rigid polystyrene
mizing downtimes and simpli- foams is, compared to HFKW,
fying maintenance. markedly lower and can often
be overcome during the first
Environment heating season.
Fig. 3. Lambda Vento system for facades: This system with EPS boards pro- In order to conform to strict
vides excellent thermal insulation (photo: BASF) According to a study published fire safety regulations, rigid
by the McKinsey Global Insti- polystyrene insulation foams
With its Styrodur Neo, Usually XPS board is still be- tute, New York, USA, the insu- are being treated with HBCD
BASF has put an XPS on the ing extruded in thicknesses of lation of buildings represents (hexabronocyclododecane), a
market whose lambda value 20 to 200 mm. The technical one of the most efficient ways flame retardant that is highly
has been further improved by approval for installing various to reduce CO2 emissions [3]. effective even in smallest
some 20 %. This innovative types of XPS in two layers in in- Given appropriate insulation, amounts. Based on environ-
leap in insulating capacity suc- verted roofs represents an im- the 3 liter house can be a real- mental considerations, howev-
ceeded – as was the case with portant step toward thicker lay- ity, even when modernizing er, the European law on chem-
EPS – by integrating finely dis- ers of insulating material. That old buildings. Among new icals, REACH, limits the use of
tributed graphite particles. means that flat roofs can be buildings, the passive house this substance beginning in
Dow, too, has introduced an built both in the advantageous standard is becoming more 2015.
XPS with the brand name Xen- inverted layer design and with and more the rule with the goal An alternative with the same
ergy that has notably improved especially high thermal insula- that, by 2020, only passive flame retardance, but clearly
insulating capacity. tion capacity. Insulation layers houses will be built in Europe. better environmental proper-
Due to this higher insulat- up to 400 mm are allowed. Technical approval in 2009 ties, is the new brominated
ing capacity, board thickness A new XPS version with a by the Deutsches Institut für polymer flame retardant devel-
can be reduced. That makes heat distortion temperature of Bautechnik for 3-layer applica- oped by Dow Chemical. Exten-
Styrodur Neo especially suited up to 105°C (maximum appli- tion of Styrodur C floor board sive test series with the new
for insulating inside walls, cation temperature) is another up to a board thickness of product on a small and medi-
floors and ceilings, as well as successful development. This 300 mm represents significant um scale have led to promising
thermal bridges and wall cavi- Styrodur HT also comes from progress toward this standard. results, so that this polymer
ties. This new foam material the laboratory of BASF scien- Board foundations thus enable may well become established
contains only air as cell gas and tists and features the same good secure, comprehensive thermal as a replacement for HBCD in
features the same positive properties as conventional XPS protection free of thermal a few years. 
properties as Styrodur C (Title which,however,cannot be used bridges for passive houses even
photo) proven in decades of use: at temperatures above 75°C. in loadbearing areas of the REFERENCES
high compressive strength, low This new insulation material is building envelope. 1 Grove-Smith, J.: Einfluss von
moisture absorption, non- available with nominal com- This feature has recently Wärmedämmung mit Neopor und
degradability, dimensional sta- pressive strengths of 300 and been utilized in the construc- Styrodur C auf den Energiebedarf
bility and longevity. 600 kPa. It is especially suitable tion of the new Lippe Bad in von Wohngebäuden in den Klimata
for inverted flat roofs, for vari- Lünen, Germany, – the first in- von Singapur, Mumbai, Buenos
ous tasks in solar technology, to door swimming pool in Ger- Aires und Los Angeles. Passivhaus
insulate hot water tanks (even many to fulfill the passive Institut, Darmstadt 2009
in contact with the soil), as well house standard. The founda- 2 Glenz, W.: Rigid Polystyrene Foam
as for all special insulation ap- tion consists of a loadbearing (EPS, XPS), Kunststoffe internation-
plications with hot water that thermal insulation layer made al 100 (2010) 10, pp. 73–77
are also pressure and moisture from three 100 mm thick lay- 3 The carbon productivity challenge:
loaded (Fig. 4). ers of Styrodur C. LohrEle- Curbing climate change and sus-
ment E. Schneider GmbH, taining economic growth. McKinsey
Developments for Gemünden-Langenprozelten, Global Institute, Juni 2008
Processing Germany, laid the prefabricat-
ed, precisely fitted Isolohr THE AUTHORS
The proven technologies avail- floorboard insulation system. HELMUT WINTERLING is the head
Fig. 4. Solar heat storage with XPS able for processing EPS and for Since about 1995, most large of Global Marketing Foams at BASF
insulation: The new version of XPS extruding XPS [2] have experi- European manufacturers of SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany.
used here has a heat distortion enced no significant develop- polystyrene insulation board NATALIE SONNTAG works for Glob-
temperature of up to 105°C (photo: mental changes in many years. have shifted their production to al Marketing Foams at BASF SE, Lud-
BASF) Their system control can gener- CO2. Semihaloginated fluoro- wigshafen.

Kunststoffe international 10/2011 21

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