From Food to Electromagnets – More than Just an Expanded Polystyrene Box (EPS)

Renowned for their safe transportation of food, expanded polystyrene (EPS) boxes have excellent insulation properties lending themselves perfectly for keeping food cold whilst in transit and ensuring the contents arrive to the recipient as fresh as the day they were packed.

Traditionally for DS Smith Plastics, Foam Products, expanded polystyrene boxes were largely used within the fishing industry where they would be packed with freshly caught fish straight from the dockside. However, in addition to exceptional insulation, polystyrene boxes also offer a number of other beneficial attributes including durability, energy absorption and lightweight. It is this collection of properties which have helped the humble polystyrene box grow in popularity and be selected for a wide variety of other applications across different market sectors.

Today, the variety of sectors the polystyrene box is popular within include the transportation of edible flowers, live food for reptiles, fishing bait and even fresh pet food; a growing market which has become increasingly popular as many pet owners seek an all-natural pet food option. With a bit of creativity, polystyrene boxes have been transformed into chick and reptile egg incubators and even used to help wildlife, with some boxes being remodelled into shelters for stray cats and hibernation homes for hedgehogs.

Where temperature control and transit protection have been important, polystyrene boxes have been relied upon to protect medicines in transit and suitable applications have been found in the fields of medical research, archaeology and forensics. Specifically in one example an polystyrene box being used to store cold whelks collected for a survey which were then shipped ashore for analysis and ageing.

One of the most unique applications saw an polystyrene box included in an experiment to simulate the induction of electromagnetism for the purpose of creating a magnetic defence against the possible influx of strangelets; theoretical particles that could be produced at the Large Hadron Collider. The polystyrene box was used to insulate a superconducting electromagnet using liquid nitrogen and liquid helium to maintain low temperatures and prevent magnet quench.

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