NASA technology is taking the Northern Utah insulation market by storm, saving valuable energy in its wake.
Consider a metal building used as a youth basketball gym in Northern Utah. Although insulated to code, the facility was unusable in the months of July and August. Air conditioners couldn't keep up with the heat.
In May, a thin, reflective material was installed in the building's rafters. Even during the hottest summer on record, the building was continuously used.
The reflective material, called RadiaSource, acts as a reflective shield, keeping heat out in the summer and in during the winter. The same technology has been used for suits in the space program to prevent heat gain and loss in the extremes of outer space.
Although the technology has been around for a while, practical applications outside of space have developed only in the last couple of years, as manufacturers learned how to handle the problem of oxidation.
"This has always been the Achilles' heel of these metal-based materials. When these materials oxidize, they lose reflectivity and need to be replaced," said Ryan Garrett, president of Ogden-based RadiaSource. "RadiaSource hit a major breakthrough by developing a patented process of construction that makes oxidation impossible."
RadiaSource, which is backed with a lifetime warranty, has an incredible tear strength, making it durable enough for any construction use, Garrett said. It has also passed every fire-safety test available, he said.
Although RadiaSource uses this technology for inexpensive items such as water heater wraps, reflective window film and garage door insulation kits, the best use is probably in metal buildings, bonus rooms and cathedral ceilings, where insulation cavities are as small as 6 inches, Garrett said.
RadiaSource can be installed during the construction phase or in a retrofit application for both walls and ceilings. Garrett sees applications of his product for livestock and poultry farms, stadiums, radiant flooring, crawl spaces, pipe and duct wrap, packaging for climate-sensive materials, greenhouses, RVs, pumps and tanks.
"The uses for RadiaSource are limited only by our imagination," Garrett said. "Anywhere you want to keep heat out or in, RadiaSource is the solution."
Ryerson University tested RadiaSource technology in a field test in Toronto, Canada. Two side-by-side homes were constructed and insulated to code, with one home including RadiSource. During the winter test period, RadiaSource's home showed a 17.8 percent savings on energy costs. During the summer months, the percentage climbed to 46.2 percent.
The Department of Energy concluded during a roof study that this technology provides the best opportunity for return on investment when compared with cool-color roofs, ventilation or mass insulation.
Garrett said his product has been popular for retrofitting existing attics. For example, a Hooper resident with traditional insulation waist-deep in his attic avoided occupying the upstairs because of the extreme heat. Not only did RadiaSource make upstairs living more comfortable, but it saved him 29 percent on his energy bill in just one summer.
Insulation markets in other states are embracing the technology, Garrett said. RadiaSource is now part of the prescriptive building requirements in California because of its proven record of efficiency.
"We are proud to offer homeowners a way to be more comfortable and save more money," Garrett said. "As we do, we also preserve the environment for future generations and help America get one step closer to the goal of energy independence."