Thermal insulation is the reduction of heat transfer (the transfer of thermal energy between objects of differing temperature) between objects in thermal contact or in range of radiative influence. Thermal insulation can be achieved with specially engineered methods or processes, as well as with suitable object shapes and materials. Heat flow is an inevitable consequence of contact between objects of differing temperature.
Thermal Insulation in Your Refrigerated Transport – All You Need to Know
For those in the business of the transport and delivery of temperature-sensitive goods and equipment, a refrigerated van is an indispensable asset. As the name implies, a refrigerated van is a van capable of creating and maintaining certain temperatures. This setup usually comprises of a simple refrigerating unit, and an insulated space.
Thermal insulation is important, because the simple fact is that you cannot simply stick a refrigerating unit in a van and expect it to provide sufficient cooling to do the job. You require a form of insulation that can help to maintain the internal temperature, while keeping out the thermal influence of external temperature.
The insulation in trucks and larger vehicles is done in a container not directly connected to, or accessible from, the front seat of the van. In vans, this can be a space in the back. This means that regular van owners can have their vans converted into refrigerated vans or, if they are DIY enthusiasts, can even do the conversion themselves.
Thermal insulation comes in the form of a type of very dense polymer foam, similar to the type used for styrofoam cups, except much denser. This foam is sprayed on all surfaces within the designated area of the van. It is important to cover the entire surface area in order to leave no vulnerable spots through which heat can permeate. This foam serves its function well because of its very low conductivity of heat. This means that the thicker the layer of foam sprayed, the higher the strength of the insulation.
After the polymer foam is sprayed, it is then necessary to coat it with a protective layer. This layer exists chiefly to protect the foam from damage during the course of loading and unloading. This coating is a hard, spill resistant, surface that also protects from stains. There are two major types of coating used:
- Wet Lay – This is the more popular form of coating, and is generally accepted as the more effective. This is a sprayed-on liquid polymer that covers the foam. This polymer hardens upon contact with air, creating a solid and durable surface. By spraying the polymer, it is easier to cover every inch of the foam.
- Dry Lay – The main difference between wet lay and dry lay is that, during the installation process, dry lay already exists in a solid form. Dry lay arrives in the form of tiles of hard plastic, similar to polymer, that are used to cover the foam. It is used less frequently as there is a chance of bacteria breeding in the spaces between the tiles. This can be dangerous, especially in the transportation of food items.
Refrigerated transport is a growing industry with high projections. Having a good refrigerated van with optimal thermal insulation can be all you need to take your business to the next level, so I suggest you go out there and get yourself one.