Thermal insulation

Thermal insulation is the reduction of heat transfer (i.e. the transfer of thermal energy between objects of differing temperature) between objects in thermal contact or in range of radiative influence. Thermal insulation can be achieved with specially engineered methods or processes, as well as with suitable object shapes and materials.
Heat flow is an inevitable consequence of contact between objects of different temperature. Thermal insulation provides a region of insulation in which thermal conduction is reduced or thermal radiation is reflected rather than absorbed by the lower-temperature body.
Gases possess poor thermal conduction properties compared to liquids and solids, and thus makes a good insulation material if they can be trapped. In order to further augment the effectiveness of a gas (such as air) it may be disrupted into small cells which cannot effectively transfer heat by natural convection. Convection involves a larger bulk flow of gas driven by buoyancy and temperature differences, and it does not work well in small cells where there is little density difference to drive it, and the high surface-to-volume ratios of the small cells retards gas flow in them by means of viscous drag.
Maintaining acceptable temperatures in buildings (by heating and cooling) uses a large proportion of global energy consumption. Building insulations also commonly use the principle of small trapped air-cells as explained above, e.g. fiberglass (specifically glass wool), cellulose, rock wool, polystyrene foam, urethane foam, vermiculite, perlite, cork, etc. For a period of time, Asbestos was also used, however, it caused health problems.