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Soleil (“So-Lay”) Insulation

Definitions and How this Revolutionary Insulation Works

Opaque radiation-resistant insulation [ORRI] doubles the heat resistance of conventional insulation employing reflective and Low-E [Emission of heat energy or E-value] technology by means of air spaces adjacent to both sides of a radiant barrier [very thin, metalized material]. The front air space enables the radiant barrier to both reflect and evacuate radiation [electromagnetic heat energy waves], which prevents much of it from converting to conduction [heat energy absorption] by the excitement of molecules when radiant heat waves contact solid materials. A portion of the radiant heat, which would otherwise excessively a pass through wall or roof, is resisted by the back air space inducing re-radiating, (conductive heat energy, after passing through a solid material, converting back into radiation or radiant heat energy when encountering air).

ORRI's radiant barrier adjacent to its exterior air space reflects radiation back towards the heat source, mirroring heat as common mirror reflects visible light. Without an adjacent air space no material can reflect. The exterior air space also channels radiant heat and damaging moisture away from a structure when the outside temperature exceeds the inside temperature. Conversely, when those temperatures and thus the airflow reverses, ORRI also reverses automatically with the interior air space reflecting and, with its vent closed, the exterior space inhibiting radiation. Additionally, the radiant barrier is sealed to prevent contamination and moisture penetrating building materials and conventional insulation.

The Problem:

Today half of the 22% of total U.S. electricity consumption used to cool and heat buildings is wasted and polluting. Conventional insulation for opaque walls and roofs - fiberglass, foam sheeting, and structural insulated panels (SIPs) - are graded and code-regulated solely R- [Resistance to heat] Value, the only measurement use by building codes to measure resistance to the conduction heat through walls and roofs. R-Value only measures heat resistance to the adjacent outside air temperature, but cannot measure resistance to the solar radiant energy that often heats wall and roof surfaces to more than 50° F degrees higher. Nearly all of this additional radiant heat, which is addressed and eliminated by ORRI, passes unobstructed into the interior. Modern Low-E glass curtain walls and windows can reflect and resist radiant heat energy. However, 75% to 85% of most buildings have opaque external surfaces that excessively absorb this heat, wasting polluting energy.

Secrets well-kept from the public are that fiberglass, essentially unchanged in 70 years, is often subject to moisture, which “causes the loss of… most of its insulating value” (When Technology Fails by Mathew Stein, pg. 197), and it never can perform to its designed and rated specifications.

Oakridge R-Value Study

The Solution

ORRI can economically cut in half the electricity required to heat and cool both new and existing buildings. It would not be practical for conventional insulation to do the same, as it would require doubling its width. Michael Leonard began to install insulation in novel ways with early forms of ORRI, employing standard materials and installation, within walls and roofs of new buildings in the Washington, D.C. area. He continued to install advanced versions of ORRI, reflecting and resisting more than 97% of opaque surface heat, which solar radiation causes to exceed the outside air temperature, and which passes through conventional insulation almost unobstructed. However, it is disruptive to the fiberglass, heating/cooling and utility industries. In the last 30 years, since Leonard began this work, this insulation has been generally unknown or ignored while some corporations have obstructed its use. Yet U.C. Berkeley endowed physics chair professor Paul Wright has stated: ORRI is to conventional building insulation as Tesla is to the Model T.

Opaque radiation-resistant insulation can:

  1. Block moisture, which causes mildew, mold and dry rot, and enervates fiberglass resistance.
  2. Reduce manufacturing, construction, maintenance and replacement costs with smaller, more efficient heating and cooling systems;
  3. Use smaller mechanical equipment with two inches duct diameters;
  4. Extend the useful life of insulation several fold;
  5. Reduce expansion and contraction of building materials, thus extending their useful life;
  6. Convert vented surplus heat to usable energy;
  7. Be economically installed in existing buildings without government subsidies;
  8. Greatly reduce environmental impact.

Five engineers with the California Energy Commission and California Building Standards Commission, who viewed a Company demonstration of ORRI, expressed the necessity of its building code inclusion as soon as possible. The technology could be effectively and cost-efficiently available and installed now with standard materials and installation, and more likely would be with building code incentives. It will save enormous amounts of energy when the public and professional interest and awareness can be generated, and common sense can prevail. One organization working to accomplish this can be viewed and supported at

In addition to buildings, this insulation also has many other industrial, commercial, transportation and defense applications.

In the Washington D.C. area Michael Leonard started constructing and retrofitting buildings with ORRI in the mid-l980s, and continued with improved versions. In 2004 the below house was built in brutally cold and stifling hot Keyser, West Virginia with an advanced prototype of ORRI augmenting conventional insulation. It consumes 1/3 less cost per square foot for cooling and heating than most homes currently being built. with a monthly average cost of $0.013 per square foot per month.

Soliel Insulation Prototype House