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The OnThermalHP project aimed to study thin, high-performance coatings for application on thermal mortars and external thermal insulation solutions, which minimize the risk of early development of pathologies.


A consortium made up of two companies (Argacol and Secil) and an R&D Interface Center (Itecons) investigated the fundamental causes of these phenomena and developed new formulas with the aim of providing a new segment of render coatings with improved properties.


An External Thermal Insulation Composite System (ETICS) is a commonly used construction technology to insulate building walls. This solution has been used more and more in recent decades, as efforts are made to improve the energy efficiency of the European building stock with a view to achieving the goals of Near Zero Energy from Buildings (NZEB). However, ETICS are often associated with the early occurrence of anomalies in the plastering system, namely: cracks, bubbles, dirt and biological growth.

These defects are usually related to exposure to atmospheric agents and the thermal behavior of different ETICS components under environmental conditions. Further research and on-site monitoring of ETICS walls under different exposure conditions are relevant to achieve a better understanding of these types of solutions.

In particular, the aim of this study is to investigate the risk of surface condensation occurring in ETICS solutions by analyzing the temperatures monitored in ETICS walls built with various thermal insulation products, namely: expanded polystyrene, expanded cork agglomerate, mineral wool and a thermal insulation mortar.

The influence of changing the color of the finish layer (black or white) and the orientation of the walls (north or south) was also investigated. For this purpose, two independent ETICS walls located in a Mediterranean climate (Portugal) were monitored for more than 24 months.

The condensation risk assessment was performed by estimating the percentage of time during which the surface temperature is below the dew point. It is the period when superficial condensation can occur and, consequently, there is a risk of development of biological growth on the surface of the plaster.

During the monitoring period, visual thermography and infrared inspections were used to assess possible ETICS anomalies. In addition, the accuracy of a 2D numerical model to simulate the transient thermal behavior of the case study was evaluated by comparing it with the experimental results.


Monitoring of prototypes installed under real conditions.
Replication of aging phenomena in the laboratory.
Identification and selection of innovative technologies.
Propensity for condensation testing.
Test of resistance to mold growth.
Test of resistance to microalgae growth.
Formulation studies.
Numerical simulation studies.
Validation under real conditions.

Request complete project documentation with final conclusions.



(installed in real condition)

In order to assess the influence of the type of insulation/finish on the temperature profiles of the solutions and the consequent analysis of the risk of surface condensation, the consortium decided to build test walls with various thermal insulations and two finishing colors (white and black).

Two walls were built in order to monitor the risk of condensation, one of the factors identified as enhancing biological growth, with five different insulators (EPS - expanded polystyrene, ICB - expanded cork black agglomerate, MW - mineral wool, ISODUR ONE - thermal mortar and VIP - vacuum insulation panels). In addition to the different insulating materials, the color of the finish (black or white) and the orientation of the walls (north or south) are also monitored in the center of the country for more than 24 months.



λ=40 mW/(m.K)


λ=36 mW/(m.K)


λ=40 mW/(m.K)


λ=50 mW/(m.K)


λ=7.5 mW/(m.K)


The test walls were instrumented with thermocouples that allowed a continuous recording (over 24 months of monitoring) of temperatures at the different interfaces of the system.

The use of infrared thermography allowed checking the different surface temperatures of each area under analysis, as well as trying to identify potential anomalies in the coating.

Infrared thermography inspection.

The temperature records allowed to verify quite distinct thermal amplitudes between the white and black walls, as expected.

In a sunny week, with a maximum ambient temperature of 19, the south-facing façades, with a black finish, reach around 60ºC on the surface, contrasting with the 33ºC seen on the south wall with a white finish.

These high amplitudes contribute to increase the risk of cracking in the finish.

(white wall)

(black wall)


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