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Community and Q&A

Is Icynene Insulation soy based or polyurethane based?

mrives | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

I am interested in using Icynene Insulation in my new home which should be under construction soon. I would like a response from Michael Chandler if possible.I have read that petroleum based products will be much more expensive than those that are soy based or polyurethane based, and we all know the last two would be more of the eco choice!Is Icynene really the best foam insulation to use?Is it the brand to think of if a solar builder said to those not fully in the know about these topics,” use 8 Inch spray foam insulation”. Just what would we then say to a conventional builder so the customer is happy and able to have the exact recommended product?

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    The prices are varying to radically that the only way to know is to get a quote. I recently got quotes from three different sources for Icynene and Demilec open cell foam on the same project to the same specification and the quotes were $6,800 for Icynene, $7,500 for Demilec, and $13,500 for Icynene from a different installer.

    From talking with the actual installation crews i've gained the impression that Demilec has a better record for providing superior technical support to their installers and donating free foam to Habitat and New Orleans hurricane relief efforts. So if the price were equal I would choose Demilec (

    Icynene is slightly more resistant to absorbing water than Demilec but I have floated samples in my bathroom sink over night to simulate exposure to a roof or plumbing leak and the difference in water absorption was negligible. The Icynene did seem to dry a little faster.

    I've also held the Icynene and Demilec samples under water by placing a weight on them (shampoo bottle in bathroom sink) to hold them under water. Under these conditions the Demelak took on much more water and it took much longer to dry. If your home is held under water over night the condition of your insulation is the least of your problems.

    Icynene has a product that is made with Canola Oil and Demilec has a soy-based product. A 1500 sf house with 8" of foam in the roof (approx R-28 to R-30, code minimum in North Carolina) has at most 450 pounds of foam assuming 1/2 pound per cu ft. I think the long term energy benefit of the foam largely mitigates the environmental cost of the oil it contains, especially considering how much energy it will save over its life span. If the bio based foam is cheaper than the oil-based then go for it and invest the savings in thicker foam or other envelope improvements or put it towards a solar water heater.

    Thanks for the thought provoking questions.

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