Phenolic foam can be defined as a closed-sell structure that possesses excellent thermal properties. It is manufactured by mixing high solids and phenolic resins with surface acting agents, producing a network of small bubbles in the material. Phenolic foam is lightweight and has low thermal conductivity that helps in achieving excellent insulation efficiency with minimum thickness of insulation. Compared to other organic foams, phenolic foams possess exceptional fire retardant properties. These include low flammability, low smoke density, and toxicity. Additionally, the thermal conductivity of phenolic foam is much lower than any other foam. This property makes phenolic foam an ideal material for usage for heat insulation and energy conservation. Unique properties make phenolic foam an ideal raw material for usage in applications such as civil construction, military aircraft, and naval vessels. Phenolic foam is extremely brittle and friable. This restricts its usage in applications such as nanometer fillers and short fibers.
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Phenolic foam is produced using a process that involves mixture of resole resin, acid catalyst, blowing agents such as hydrofluorocarbons, pentane or hexane, and surfactants. These foams are cured at the temperature below 100°C. This particular pressure helps avoid vaporization of water, which helps increase the pressure within the foam and rupture the cell.
Based on application, the global phenolic foams market can be segmented into cold insulation, heating ventilation Air conditioning, building and construction, petrochemical manufacturing, and others. Phenolic foams are primarily used as insulation materials because of their excellent flame resistance and high thermal stability property over a broad temperature range and low generation of toxic gases. Rigid phenolic insulation products offer good thermal insulating properties due to the very low thermal conductivity of phenolic foam compared to rigid polyurethane or extruded polystyrene. It is 50% more effective than other common insulation materials. Its low thermal conductivity helps it perform extremely well with minimal thickness of insulation. This is particularly significant where space saving is important.
Phenolic foam is used in air conditioning, and building and construction applications due to their excellent properties such as low water vapor permeance, low water absorption, and non-wicking. Phenolic foam is also used to manufacture insulation boards. These boards are manufactured by mixing high solids and phenolic resins with a surface acting agent. Furthermore, the heat is created by a reaction, which produces a network of small bubbles in the material. The foam can be cured to create one of two forms of the product. It can be manufactured by a continuous process to create thin sheet material, which is laminated with various facings and cut into boards.
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Based on geography, the global phenolic foams market can be segregated into Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. North America and Europe are the major regions of the phenolic foams market, led by the growth in the insulation industry. Companies operating in the phenolic foams market in Asia Pacific and Latin America are investing significantly in research and development activities, as phenolic foams offer various beneficial properties.