Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 10:30 PM
PVCU or uPVC is unplasticised polyvinyl chloride, a rigid polymer that can be heated and moulded for use in construction. The polyvinyl chloride or vinyl that you see in clothes like artificial leathers is the same polymer plasticised to produce a more flexible and malleable material. The polymer was initially discovered accidently on two separate occasions in the 19th century by French chemist Henri Victor Regnault in 1835 and German chemist Eugen Baumann in 1872. In both instances the discovery was made after vinyl chloride had been left exposed to sunlight. Although the potential commercial uses of the material were soon evident it initially proved too brittle and inflexible to use. In the 20th century the inclusion of additives produced a more flexible product whose use has progressively become more widespread.
uPVC is a rigid material which is non-corrosive, non-soluble and does not warp, rot or rust. It is chemically stable and so does not present a risk to health and thus can be used in applications where running water is present. It is even used to produce dental retainers and mouth guards. The colour of uPVC does not fade and runs through the thickness of the material and any surface damage like scratches can be polished out. It is easy to see why this material has found so many practical applications. It can be moulded and is lighter than most metals and woods and so is now used in place of these particularly in the manufacture of window frames and doors as it is also more thermally insulating than traditional materials.
The use of metal for drainage systems and piping has now been almost entirely replaced by uPVC as the material is cheaper, lighter, easier to mould , does not corrode and has a longer life. Replacement doors and windows are commonly uPVC although these products are often not permitted in conservation areas and are not approved for use in listed buildings. It is not known how long the lifespan of uPVC windows could be as they are a relatively new innovation but regardless of what that time proves to be these units provide superior acoustic and thermal insulation over wood and metal, are cheaper and require almost no maintenance across their lifetime. uPVC simply needs a quick wash down every so often which is why uPVC fascia boards and soffits are now also a common sight.
There have been question marks about the environmental impact of uPVC. There is no doubt that its production or incineration releases harmful chemicals into the environment and much of the waste product or used materials have ended up in landfill which is certainly not a good situation. In recent years there has been a great deal of progress with better methods for incineration being developed and a large proportion of recovered material being recycled making uPVC a renewable resource. There is still room for improvement but the situation is now moving in the right direction at least.
uPVC is a durable and inexpensive material which is ideal for such a wide variety of applications that it is undoubtedly here to stay. Whilst environmental questions remain, disposal methods are improving and a great deal of energy is saved in domestic properties each year through the use of thermally efficient uPVC windows.