The historical development of thermal insulation materials
The history of thermal insulation materials is not as long as that of other materials, but the necessity of insulation is as old as building activity. Prehistoric people built shelters to protect themselves from the elements, originally using organic materials and later more durable substitutes. However people used not only materials that were found in nature, but discovered others which were suitable for insulating. Processing organic materials produced the first insulated panels in the 19th century: meanwhile an increasing range of artificial materials were developed (rock wool, fibreglass, foam glass, hollow bricks, expanded perlite). The appearance of plastic foams caused a huge revolution. Although plastic production was well-known in the 19th century, the first plastic foam was not produced until 1941. Nowadays the most popular insulation materials are plastic foams and mineral wool with only a small amount of natural materials being produced. The overall growth of these products has been substantial due to a wide range of reasons.