The more sophisticated our insulation materials and methods are, the better we are able to decrease the total amount of energy we use.
Silver has a key behind-the-scenes role in the production of two highly versatile chemical compounds that are increasingly being used in thermal and electrical insulation. More than 700 tons of silver are used each year to produce ethylene oxide and formaldehyde, both of which are essential to the plastics industry.
Ethylene oxide is the foundation for molded plastic items such as key tops for computers, insulating handles for stoves electrical control knobs, domestic appliance components, and electrical connector housings. It is also a building block for flexible plastics like polyester, which is used to make all types of clothing and specialty fabrics. About 25 % of ethylene oxide production is used to produce antifreeze coolant for automobiles and other vehicles.
Formaldehyde, a chemical produced from methanol, is the building block of solid plastics including adhesives, laminating resins for construction plywood and particle board. Formaldehyde also helps to produce finishes for paper and electronic equipment, textiles, surface coatings that resist heat and scratches, casings for appliances, handles and knobs, packaging materials, automotive parts, thermal and electrical insulating materials, toys and many other products.