New Thermoplastic and Silicone Sealant Spacer System Makes Glass Facades and Roofs Greener

Posted on 12/11/2019 8:17:24 AM By ASC

Green buildings are on the rise, and there’s an increasing demand for insulating building materials that will help to reduce the amount of energy used for heating and cooling. At the same time, aesthetics remain important, and large glass facades and roofs pose energy-efficiency challenges.

Traditionally, insulating glass units used aluminum spacers to separate glass layers filled with insulating gas with an edge seal ensuring that the gas fill could not escape. But now, so-called warm edge spacer systems are showing an improvement in the durability and performance of thermally insulated glass structures.

Instead of using aluminum, these systems make use of thermoplastic spacers with lower thermal conductivity, but the edge seal is still of vital importance in retaining the gas fill. A primary seal is used, and this is supplemented with a secondary sealant in the form of silicone. Silicone sealants were used in the conventional insulating glass systems of the past, but proved ineffective in retaining the insulating gas when the primary seal failed.

However, when combined with the new thermoplastic spacers, the edge seal system, which still uses silicone as a secondary edge sealant, will prevent gas migration despite the stressors to which large glass structures are subjected. Working as a cohesive system, the thermoplastic components deform, spreading stress across the structure instead of concentrating it at the edge. Meanwhile the UV resistance of silicone combined with primary seals now subjected to less stress, ensure improved gas retention.

The undulating glass roof of the Chadstone Shopping Center in Melbourne, Australia utilizes the new system, demonstrating its versatility and aesthetic potential, while still being greener than earlier iterations of insulating glass systems.

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