SRS Finlay Energy Saving Buildings: Usage of Thermal Blocks in Walls

Yireikan Khapudang, General Manager, SRS Finlay

The continuing need to conserve energy has resulted in mandated requirements for the thermal performance of construction. Since it is impractical to measure all buildings or building components and systems for thermal properties, simple and accurate methods to reliably predict thermal performance are necessary. Design professionals must estimate the energy requirements associated with all types of building systems, including masonry, to select appropriate systems and to provide for economical heating and cooling design.

Building design and material properties influence thermal performance and energy consumption for residential and commercial buildings. Insulated wall, floor and roof systems provide an innovative combination of excellent thermal conductivity, thermal mass and low air-infiltration. This practical combination of properties in one system provides an excellent thermal insulation material and permits peak energy usage in the building to be shifted to off-peak hours, thus reducing operation cost for building users and owners, improving comfort of living and reducing the demand on power generation facilities. One can look at Substantial reduction in air conditioning tonnage and huge savings in monthly electricity bills up to 40%. It is very economical for centrally air-conditioned buildings, public utility structures, government buildings, schools, hospitals, theatres, shopping complexes, and so on.

Thermal Blocks

SRS Finlay Energy Saving Buildings
Thermal / Dow STYROFOAM (XPS)/Polystyrene insulated blocks are made of concrete consisting of selected aggregate and cement with extruded STYROFOAM (XPS). The Polystyrene/STYROFOAM (XPS) is specially designed and placed symmetrically during the time of moulding the blocks at wet stage of concrete.

Thermal blocks are high load bearing, fire resistant, excellent sound insulation and high thermal efficiency building concrete blocks.

The most standard sizes of thermal blocks with cavities are
  • Size 1: 400x200x200 mm (8")
  • Size 2: 400x250x200 mm (10")
Thermal Values of the blocks recorded at 35°C and 60% R.H.
  • U value: .362watt/m2 K
  • K value: .037 watt/m K
  • R value: 1.75 m2 K/ watt

Product Description

It is a STYROFOAM (XPS) sandwiched block where the STYROFOAM (XPS) is integrally locked symmetrically into concrete structure (incorporated at the wet stage of concrete itself) resulting in an excellent thermal insulation and bonding. This is a proven technology of two decades, widely used in Europe and Middle East.

F-24 C, SRS Finlay Egg Laying machines allow such arrangement in which profiled STYROFOAM (XPS) pieces are pre-fixed on the mould box where the semi dry mixture pours over the top. The profiled cut STYROFOAM (XPS) can be supplied by players like Dow chemical's who has started marketing the product in India extensively.

The use of block work allows structures to be built in the traditional masonry style with layers or courses of overlapping blocks. These cement hollow blocks are widely used for building infrastructure and require low maintenance. High dimensional accuracy and consistent finish make these blocks an ideal building material for both load bearing constructions as well as partition walls. These concrete hollow blocks are a better substitute to work faster to build a structure long lasting value.

Thermal Insulation

SRS Finlay Energy Saving BuildingsA typical production process and product description is shown above
The concept of insulated building is not new in India as there are number of green buildings which are rated as environment-friendly with LEED certifications. Insulated building material such as auto cleaved aerated concrete blocks or STYROFOAM (XPS) sheet insertion in between the cavity walls is widely practiced in India. However, the Insulating property of thermal blocks are far superior to aerated blocks, as it provides 4 times more insulation in terms of “K Value – Thermal Conductivity.” Though this value may not be the total parameter for an Architect/Engineer for the design of an energy efficient building, it forms one of the important key factors along with other material characteristics like block density, strength, ambient temperatures etc.

While specifying the most efficient materials and fittings, there are three ratings used for estimating heat loss/gain: the K rating, the R value, and the U value.
  • K Value – the lower the better (Thermal conductivity)
  • R value - the higher the better (Thermal resistance)
  • U value - the lower the better (Thermal Transmittance)
The difference in thermal performance between seemingly similar products can be dramatic, which is why it's so important to keep an eye on the R and U values. Normal 250 mm thermal concrete blocks have an R of 1.75 while an Aerated block will have an R of 0.46. A wall built of thermal concrete blocks will therefore insulate 4 times as much heat as a wall built of AAC blocks.

A brief comparison chart is shown below
Properties Autoclaved Aerated Concrete Block Dow’s STYROFOAM (XPS) Inserted Thermal Concrete Block
"K" Thermal Conductivity at 35°C and 60% R.H. 0.134 W/m.k° 0.037 W/m.k°
"R" Thermal resistance 0.46 M^2 K/W 1.75 m^2 K/W
Water Absorption Low Low
Average STYROFOAM (XPS) Density N/A 26 kg/m^3
"U" Thermal Transmittance Value 2.13 W/m^2 K 0.36 W/m^2 K
Compressive strength of the Blocks 3-4 N/mm^2 7.5-10 N/mm^2
Density 550-650 Kg/mm^3 1400-1500 Kg/mm^3
Fire Resistance High High

Any good builder should be able to calculate the R and U values for you and can advise you about the relative costs of different insulation options for achieving the lowest heat loss.

Advantages and limitations for usage of thermal blocks in walls

  • Provides guaranteed consistent insulation value
  • Permits excess moisture to escape
  • Allows easy installation of pipes, conduits, etc.
  • Improves dew point
  • Improves sound resistance
  • Eliminates concern of shrinkage, toxic fumes or odours
  • Improves the ability of blocks to resist wind driven rain.
  • Can be used above or below grade
The Insulate Wall System, like conventional concrete masonry units insulated with STYROFOAM (XPS), saves job site labour costs simply because all units are delivered with insulation already in the blocks. Construction of walls is exactly like normal concrete blocks – same mortar, same manpower & same productivity. No extra glues, chemicals, fixing materials or special fixtures. In addition:
  • No lost time or rework if inspection rejects the quality of on-site workmanship
  • Work by other trades is performed with little danger of damage to insulation
  • The block itself can be used as a bond beam or lintel eliminating the need to deliver several different types of blocks to the job site.
  • The actual cost of insulation is a firm figure, as compared to estimated values used when insulation material is site installed where labour efficiency may vary and where losses may be sustained due to damage or theft
Limitations: As is the case with Dow's STYROFOAM (XPS) product, it should not be exposed to temperatures in excess of 110°F for prolonged periods of time.

Frequently Asked Questions on Thermal Blocks

1. Is it very costly?

It is a very cost effective product, due to the nature of the properties; the product is costlier than masonry hollow block. When one considers long-term benefits thermo block is value for money and one time investment and lifelong savings. A thermal block of 400X250X200 mm may cost 80 - 90 (INR) in Mumbai Region

2. What about the compressive strength?

The Thermal block has the same compressive strength of a normal 8" Hollow Blocks Thermal Blocks are very well designed to give optimum insulation as well as mechanical strength.

3. Will not STYROFOAM (XPS) catch fire easily?

Since it is enclosed on all four sides by concrete mortar joints and is sandwiched between 62.5 mm thick concrete plates, no flame due to electrical short circuiting can spread in that air tight cell. As a material, Dow STYROFOAM (XPS) is classified as B1 class building Material when tested in accordance with German DIN 4102 Standards.

4. The handling of block may be delicate?

The block is very robust and due to the high shearing strength of STYROFOAM (XPS), it is very difficult to separate the insert from the block. It requires bare minimum handling care and the blocks should not be thrown around but handled in a proper way. It can be easily handled by SRS Finlay clamps/grab units.

5. What is the life of a polystyrene insert?

STYROFOAM (XPS) will easily outlast concrete as it is not bio-degradable.

6. What about water absorption?

Since the thermal block is basically a normal concrete block, the water absorption characteristics are the same as a normal concrete block. Also STYROFOAM (XPS) has very negligible water absorption characteristics as per DIN 53428.

7. What is the effect of termites, vermin & other types of insects and is Polystyrene harmful?


Facts about STYROFOAM (EPX) Insulated Blocks
• STYROFOAM (XPS) is the best available insulation material at present for usage in walls & roofs all over the world.
• The insulation properties are very superior if the STYROFOAM (XPS) is integrated into concrete at wet stage moulding/casting to have good bonding and avoid air gaps pockets to eliminate any chance for condensation.
• Researched data proves that ‘STYROFOAM (XPS) inserted’ concrete blocks are the most cost effective in terms of Thermal insulation as against Cavity wall, clay wall, autoclaved brick wall, Cavity wall with STYROFOAM (XPS) sheet and other type of insulation.

Dow's STYROFOAM (XPS) poses no health hazards and it is immune to insects, pests, plants and micro organisms.

8. What about end blocks (at the openings. E.g. doors, windows)?

Suitable end block designs can be developed.

9. What about continuity of insulation because of mortar joints?

Thermal Insulation continuity without any thermal bridge can be made. But it should be pointed out that in other Middle East countries full mortar across the faces & sides is applied and the thermal bridge loss is very much within acceptable limits.
NBM&CW July 2011
Enerpac Introduces LGH3100 Synchronous Lock Grip System

Enerpac Introduces LGH3100 Synchronous Lock Grip System

Enerpac's latest announcement of the LGH3100 synchronous lock grip system marks a significant advancement in the hydraulic force applications. With a formidable capability of up to 100 tons, this system is tailored for the extraction

Read more ...

DINGLI Soars in India's Infrastructure Boom with Advanced MEWPs

DINGLI Soars in India's Infrastructure Boom with Advanced MEWPs

DINGLI is playing a leading role in the fast-growing Indian infrastructure construction market by providing advanced Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs). Rajinder Raina, President, SAARC Countries (DINGLI India), discusses the company's

Read more ...

NBEE: Meeting Challenges with Tech-Enabled Machines

NBEE: Meeting Challenges with Tech-Enabled Machines

Nilesh Bhorkar, Chairman & Managing Director, NB Equipments & Engineering, shares the challenges in the market and the company’s strategies to strengthen its position in the face of competition.

Read more ...

Rough Terrain Crane Sector Seeing High Traction: Tadano, Liebherr & ACE

Rough Terrain Crane Sector Seeing High Traction: Tadano, Liebherr & ACE

Amidst the dynamic landscape of India's construction industry, the rough terrain cranes sector is experiencing a notable surge in activity, driven by evolving demand patterns. Manufacturers like Tadano, Liebherr and ACE are swiftly adapting

Read more ...

Growing Mechanization in India's Real Estate Construction Sector: CMAC

Growing Mechanization in India's Real Estate Construction Sector: CMAC

From modest beginnings marked by reliance on traditional construction methods to the present era of sophisticated technology-driven solutions, the real estate sector is seeing a significant shift in the way vertical construction

Read more ...

Alpha Services leading innovation in Mobile and Fixed Tower Cranes

Alpha Services leading innovation in Mobile and Fixed Tower Cranes

Alpha Services, a company that introduced Mobile Tower Cranes to the Indian market in 1988, is today a leading play‎er in the segment and is also growing steadily in the Fixed Tower crane segment. The cranes are designed for material handling jobs

Read more ...

Preventing Tower Crane Accidents

Preventing Tower Crane Accidents

Crane accidents are a prevalent concern worldwide. The accidents stem from factors like operator errors, unpredictable wind gusts, overloading, and structural deficiencies, necessitating proactive measures to mitigate potential risks and

Read more ...

Tower Crane Market: ACE, Liebherr India & Alpha Cranes

Tower Crane Market: ACE, Liebherr India & Alpha Cranes

The Indian construction industry is seeking efficient and high capacity lifting solutions for the construction of high-rise buildings and mega infrastructure projects. This demand is being met by tower cranes, as they can lift heavy loads

Read more ...

Manitou: Backhoe loaders, scissor lifts, telehandlers

Manitou: Backhoe loaders, scissor lifts, telehandlers

Manitou South Asia, a Manitou Group subsidiary, showcased its backhoe loader, telehandler, and skid steer loader, which exemplified the brand’s adherence to BS (CEV) V standards that meet the latest regulatory requirements.

Read more ...

ACE: New Tower & Pick-n-Carry Cranes, upgraded Backhoe Loader

ACE: New Tower & Pick-n-Carry Cranes, upgraded Backhoe Loader

Indian Construction Equipment manufacturing conglomerate, Action Construction Equipment (ACE) displayed its new range of tower cranes, new pick-n-carry cranes, and an upgraded version of its backhoe loaders at Excon. The new 6 to 8-ton

Read more ...

Liebherr: Tower & mobile Cranes, loaders & dozers for Indian market

Liebherr: Tower & mobile Cranes, loaders & dozers for Indian market

On display at Excon were NC-LH 12-55 tower crane, the LRT 1100-2.1 rough terrain crane, the L 550 and L 566 wheel loaders, and the PR 736 crawler dozer - all of which offer customised solutions for the Indian construction industry.

Read more ...

Abhay Rana's Versatile MAGNI Rotating Telehandlers

Abhay Rana's Versatile MAGNI Rotating Telehandlers

Abhay Rana Infra Services Private Limited, which entered into an Exclusive Distribution tie-up with Magni Telehandlers for India in 2023, exhibited the Rotating Telehandlers for the first time at Excon. The Rotating Telehandlers are very

Read more ...

Everest Engineering offers world's largest Passenger Hoist

Everest Engineering offers world's largest Passenger Hoist

Everest Engineering Equipment introduced the world's largest passenger hoist, with a remarkable 3.2-ton capacity and twin cages of a total 6.4 tons. What makes it stand out is its operation on a single mast, offering a unique and

Read more ...

Sarens: Transported & Installs 16 Wind Turbines at Jagaluru Wind Farm

Sarens: Transported & Installs 16 Wind Turbines at Jagaluru Wind Farm

Sarens, a world leader in heavy lifting, engineered transport and crane rental solutions, has been entrusted with the lifting of sixteen EN3.3MW 140mHH wind turbines at the Jagaluru hybrid plant in Karnataka. This TCI (Transport, Crane and Installation) project

Read more ...

Sarens Deploys Boom Crane & Lifting Tackles for Tata Steel Project

Sarens Deploys Boom Crane & Lifting Tackles for Tata Steel Project

Working on the biggest and boldest projects in the world is Saren–the reason why we were proud to help Tata Steel Limited construct the largest blast furnace in India. As part of this operation, Sarens deployed our 1.600MT-capacity crawler lattice boom crane

Read more ...

Mammoet Deploys Three World's Largest Heavy Lift Ring Cranes In India

Mammoet Deploys Three World's Largest Heavy Lift Ring Cranes In India

Mammoet, the global leader in heavy lifting and transport solutions, is proud to announce the deployment of three of the world's largest heavy lift ring cranes (with a combined 8,600-t of lifting power) in the country's energy industry. This is the first time

Read more ...

Crawler Cranes Increased Usage Across Industries: Liebherr and ACE

Crawler Cranes Increased Usage Across Industries: Liebherr and ACE

Crawler crane manufacturers like Liebherr Cranes India and Action Construction Equipment are bullish on demand prospects in view of the large-scale infra development projects being planned across industries such as petrochemical, power stations, metallurgical

Read more ...

Jungheinrich: Forklifts, Trucks & Logistics Solutions

Jungheinrich: Forklifts, Trucks & Logistics Solutions

Jungheinrich Lift Truck India, a 100% subsidiary of Jungheinrich AG, offers a comprehensive product portfolio of Material Handling Equipment that includes Pallet Trucks, Forklift Trucks, Reach Trucks, and Tow Tractors, besides Logistics Systems & Services

Read more ...

Multiple Benefits of Mobile Cranes Behind Demand

Multiple Benefits of Mobile Cranes Behind Demand

Prominent crane manufacturing companies Liebherr, Schwing Stetter India, and ACE share their views on the current market for mobile cranes and their latest offerings, with P.P. Basistha. Demand for mobile cranes namely all-terrain, truck cranes, and pick-and

Read more ...

To get latest updates on whatsapp, Save +91 93545 87773 and send us a 'Saved' message
Click Here to Subscribe to Our eNewsletter.