Like all technologist, I specify glass wool, I use it predomantly in loft applications, stud wall Amy floor. It's a product I have not given much thought to over the years, it was not nice to work with, it made you itch and it smelled a little. As far as I was concerned, the manufacturers had not progressed the technology that much, it was a none entity product, I did not even make a manufacturer, just density I was required to meet.
The Mark Wilson, told me he had secured a visit to the Knaufdrywall insulation plant in St Helen's, I was interested, I had not been into a quilt plant, in all the years I have been involved in insulation, being more interested in PU, PI, and the like. So yesterday I drove up to Liverpool and was treated to a wonderful afternoon.
There was no sales pitch, so often any sales man or woman, just can't help them selves, that have to give the corporate pitch, and tell you how good they are, not this case, our host, gave a very swift welcome, handed out the barest literature packs and we were of, there was it seems a lot to see, and she was not wrong.
I had in my mind a vision of a quilt plant as being dirty and full of spent quilt, here was the first mistake, the St Helen's plant is so clean, no smell from the several chimneys, we were told as we walked that they scrub most if not all the pollutants out of the chimney stack, which they used as a recycled ingredient, to aid production.
I suppose the biggest problem with quilts was or is the itching, almost every one I know complains of laying glass quilts, why does it itch, well as far as I understand it, the binding agent that gives the glass strands, rigidity is to blame, the formaldehyde based product both gave the smell and is the cause of itching.
So I was particularly interested when our host explained that Knauf had developed a new binder which they call ECOSE Technology, glass wool as its spun, has no rigidity, you can fluff it up, but as soon as you squash it, it remains squashed, the binder give the spring, and in this case a rather earthy brown colour. The new binder, is not a formaldehyde based product, as best as I got out of them is a molasses or sort of sugar starch base, so no itch, at all.
The manufacturer of glass quilt is something else, we managed to peep inside the large oven or kilm, to see a sea of liquid glass slowly traversing a brick kiln, which I was told is held together with just friction, cold air is blown across the out side to cool any glass that leaks out, and would you believe we walked under this !!.
If you have ever seen a candifloss machine at a fair, then you have seen the basic manufacture of mineral wool or glass wool, the base product has a slight blue tinge, which comes from the very high, in this case 70% recycled glass content, it feel like candifloss, and looks like it. The proof you need about the itch factor is here, the base product is inert. As you might expect, control is everything with a plant handling moult on glass at a temp of I excess of 1200 Deg C,
A very clean if noisy workplace, with just about every control you can imagine. I have changed my mind on glass wool, it has evolved, and good on Knauf for spending the money to develop the new technology, I have up until now not specified a named product, but that's changing, my next spec will be named, and I intend to take a closer look at my other specs so will call in the local rep to see if I can improve them.
In all I count yesterday and a very well earned three hour CPD event, a 100% technical day, that I certainly will give a 10 out of 10 for.
Today's photo is of a double door into a staircase, it has not stood the test of time, but there is a lot to learn, , the way no architrave was used, the poor choice of material for the spandrel panel over the door, the wall, door interface, and the very bad use of silva onto seal the door edge, just not good at all.