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Thermal insulator

Thermal insulator is formed by adding a sufficient quantity of water to a superabsorbent polymer in a flexible container to form a gel.

The polymer is lightly cross-linked potassium polyacrylate. The gel-holding flexible container may then be wrapped around or otherwise positioned to envelop a vial containing a temperature-sensitive specimen. The gel-holding flexible container is an effective thermal insulator which protects the specimen from potentially harmful extremes of temperatures, and also cushions the specimen-containing vial against mechanical shock.

Because hold space is often at a premium on small vessels and the costs of insulation can amount to a significant proportion of the costs involved in construction, the choice of insulator material can be very important.

Several thermal insulator materials are used commercially for fishing vessels, but few are completely satisfactory for this purpose. The main problems are lack of sufficient mechanical strength and moisture absorption. The latter is a particularly significant problem in fishing vessels, where melting ice is used as a chilling medium. Thermal insulators work by trapping bubbles or pockets of gas inside a foam structure. When these cells of gas are filled with moisture, there are significant losses in insulating efficiency.

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