SPF Insulation and Cold Storage

Often processing plants and distribution centers require complete buildings to be insulated from floor to ceiling. Usually, polyurethane sprayed foam is chosen due to its high R-value, vapor blocking, thermal resistance, flexibility and performance under extreme temperatures. SPF polyurethane foam is a high tech insulation product; for example, NASA uses SPF foam on space shuttle fuel tanks to protect and insulate the tanks during extreme temperature conditions (lift-off, etc). SPF Polyurethane foam may be expensive but it performs well beyond traditional insulation materials such as fiberglass, cellulose, etc.

cold storage warehouse
A worker moves frozen goods in a cold storage warehouse in Texas.

Some important factors to consider when installing full building size refrigeration are target temperatures, which insulation materials to use, moisture vapor transmission, load design, expansion joints, flashing details, floor & ceiling prep and pull down schedule. Warehouse refrigeration facilities must store anything from ice cream to bananas or raw meat. Overall, the proposed insulation systems must meet any required refrigeration requirements within a reasonable control range for humidity, vapor transmission, and temperature.

Refrigerated Warehouses

Normally refrigerated warehouses store processed or frozen foods at a constant temperature between -40F and 50F. Some examples of refrigerated buildings are processing plants for meats poultry dairy or other food products which must be stored before distribution. Often processing plants have complex refrigeration requirements, with many rooms, each with unique functions, operating temperatures and humidity conditions.

Especially with large processing plants, when it comes to insulation, many million of dollars are on the line. Keeping processed goods well refrigerated is a must to maintain quality and prevent spoiling, aside from FDA requirements and potential consumer lawsuits or expensive recalls if something goes wrong. Although sprayed polyurethane foam is expensive, it is also the highest quality insulation material available on the market. Over time, SPF foam has proven that it is well worth the expense, and in the long run it tends to pay for itself in costs savings, due to superior insulation qualities, durability, flexibility, etc.

SPF cold storage warehouse
A refrigerated warehouse (-30 degrees celcius) in Indonesia is pictured.

Case Study Example

Barrier Specialty Roofing & Coatings, Inc knew that installing UCSC Durazone Spray Foam insulation in a 145,000 sq. ft. cold storage warehouse during just a 30 day window would be a true challenge. Three coats of SPF insulation were required for the building’s ceilings and walls. The three passes of SPF Polyurethane Foam would form a vapor and thermal blocking layer with an R-value sufficient to meet insulation capacity requirements for the refrigerated building.

The warehouse chain (name withheld due to contractor-client privacy restrictions) decided spray-foam was essential to keep their food at stable cold temperatures within allowed control parameters. SPF foam is unique in its capacity to conform to any shape and completely seal a building envelope with an air-tight barrier. SPF polyurethane foam would both block moisture or vapor movement and insulate more effectively than any other viable alternatives, and it could be applied fast enough to avoid a bottleneck or slow down in the construction process.

SPF Polyurethane Foam and Traditional Refrigerators

Polyurethane foam is also used in traditional refrigerators, so it is no surprise that this same material is also used in larger warehouse sized refrigeration applications. By trapping moisture and vapor movement the polyurethane foam also makes a great thermal resistance barrier which prevents ice build-up and conserves energy costs. One single inch of closed cell foam insulates as well as about 7-8 inches of wood (R-Value 7-8). The reduced air & vapor movement also prevents mold.

Generally, SPF foam is about four times more effective than products such as cellulose or blown fiberglass. Raw R-values may not indicate this; however laboratory tests have demonstrated that vapor trapping (a key metric which R-value does not account for) is a critical factor in actual insulation performance in the field.

SPF Polyurethane Foam Manufactured On-Site

As mentioned earlier, SPF polyurethane foam can conform to any shape-this is because SPF foam is manufactured on site. Polyurethane self-flashes to the substrate and instantly rises to about 1,000 times its original size. Generally, polyurethane foam cures best in warm, dry conditions. The whole process of spraying the foam and curing only takes about 1 minute. During the process the SPF closed cell foam traps millions of tiny air bubbles making the material extremely thermal resistant and lightweight.

Barrier Specialty Roofing & Coatings, Inc

Barrier Specialty Roofing & Coatings, Inc committed to completing a 145,000 square foot insulation job in just 30 days. This would keep the rest of the manufacturing on-time for the new refrigeration warehouse. CEO Cunnings explains that they had already done over 1.2 million square feet of insulation for the warehouse chain in other facilities in the USA, Mexico, and Canada.

Safety First

The SPF crew based in Fresno, CA took safety seriously during the insulation job. Since the work area was enclosed, Allegro Respirators were used to ensure a fresh air supply for each team member. The air conditioned full face air masks were complemented with Tyvek suits for further safety. As each night shift ended the team cleaned up & removed plastic and other hazards that would otherwise inhibit other construction crews during the day.

Ahead of Schedule with Great Quality

The crew managed to finish the job in just 23 days–a full week ahead of schedule, which meant big bonuses for the crew as well as the continued trust & good relations with the warehouse client. The speed and quality provided by the Barrier Specialty Roofing & Coatings, Inc team ensures many future jobs with the refrigeration warehouse chain. The air-tight monolithic thermal barrier provided by the SPF polyurethane foam will ensure the refrigeration warehouse chain can store food products at maximum freshness, which will in turn result in continued happy customers and positive sales revenue growth.

4 thoughts on “SPF Insulation and Cold Storage”

  1. I always wondered how they made those giant refrigerated warehouses for beef or poultry processing. I guess it makes sense that they would use polyurethane foam–I wonder if the same type of thing is used in normal every day refrigerators? One thing the article doesn’t mention at all is the cost or alternatives. I wonder if there’s viable alternatives to polyurethane foam for insulation. From the way the article sounds SPF foam must be the standard? Or is it, I just wonder.

  2. I am working on cold storages for sea food to vegitable. Do not understand why your item is not available in Bangladesh. There are good demand and the price proposed if it is accepatable for food grade insulation than I am willing to import and sell to local cold store builder. it is also suitable for the top floor of growing apartment building where it is too hot in summer. Our building are cement concrete and M>S Rod and sand brick made one.Not wooden buildings as shown in your video. Looking forward to hear more.

  3. Spray foam production requires expertise and very expensive equipment. You must find a local contractor. We are thousands of miles away, and unfortunately, unable to help.

  4. I always wondered how they refridgerated things large scale. I have never heard much about refrigerated warehouses before.

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