Removable Insulation Blanket - Exhaust Piping

Two Problems to Avoid When Sourcing Removable Insulation Blankets

With nearly four decades in insulation blanket manufacturing, Firwin has quite a bit of experience with helping customers find the best insulation blanket solutions for their applications. Part of that experience includes helping clients fix pre-existing insulation problems, or helping to prevent potential mishaps in their insulation sourcing journey. In this blog, we explore two of the most common problems that we’ve seen clients run into while attempting to order insulation blankets.

Problem #1: Ordering Improperly Sized Blankets

A common occurrence that Firwin has encountered over the years is clients unintentionally ordering insulation blankets at the wrong dimensions. It’s an easy mistake to make without the proper experience and prior knowledge that comes from working with a variety of insulation projects, and the errors usually stem from the same issue. Clients will often forget a key component that needs to be taken into consideration: the thickness of the insulation blanket.

This can be most aptly demonstrated via a numerical example:

Let’s say that a client has a pipe that needs to be insulated that measures 5” in diameter and 12” in length.

To determine the blanket dimensions, clients know they need the surface area:

Surface Area = Circumference * length of pipe

To Calculate Pipe Circumference:

Circumference = Pi * Diameter
Circumference = 3.14 * 5” (diameter of pipe)
Circumference = 15.71”

The Common Mistake: The client submits their blanket dimensions as Surface Area = 15.71” (pipe circumference) * 12” (pipe length)

What Did They Forget? The thickness of the insulation blanket increases the actual “pipe diameter”.

What are the Real Dimensions? To account for the insulation blanket, the pipe diameter should be increased by approximately 1” per end, making the actual calculations:

Circumference = Pi * Diameter
Circumference = 3.14 * 7” (diameter of pipe)
Circumference = 21.99”
Actual Blanket Surface Area = 21.99” (pipe circumference) * 12” (pipe length)

The purpose of the above example is to demonstrate the “unknowns” that clients will run into when trying to purchase insulation blankets strictly by dimension. Even if the client has previously ordered insulation blankets to specific dimensions in the past, we exercise caution when taking on orders where only blanket dimensions are provided. This is especially true if the client is replacing non-Firwin blankets. We might recommend using different insulation materials and thicknesses than the clients current blankets. Small variations in blanket material makeup can lead to discrepancies within the final required blanket dimension.

To avoid this problem, Firwin recommends that clients refrain from placing insulation orders with exact blanket measurements and specifications. Instead, it should be left to the insulation provider to design the blankets and determine the final required blanket measurements. Allow the insulation provider to work with you to learn more about the project, and to determine exactly what you are trying to achieve with your insulation blankets. With a full understanding of the industry you are working within, and the environmental factors the blankets will be exposed to, the provider can make an educated decision on the materials required. From there, it can be a seamless process of the insulation provider providing the client with the exact dimensions and end product they need, without any mismeasurement problems occurring.

Problem #2: Not Receiving the Best Insulation Solution for Your Project

Another problem that Firwin has observed is clients potentially missing out on cost-effective insulation blanket solutions for their projects.

Similar to our recommendations to the first problem, we always advise that the client provide the insulation manufacturer with as many details as possible about the application that is being insulated. It’s possible that the blanket material makeup that a client is used to working with can be improved to create a stronger, more durable, or even cheaper final solution. Clients may simply be unaware of what options are available when it comes to insulating for their specific industry. By submitting strict blanket material requirements, without leaving room for assessment and consultation, the insulation manufacturer is unable to advise the customer and prevent inefficiencies in the blanket design.

To avoid running into this problem, we encourage all end users to send over photos, dimensions of the parts that need to be insulated, and as many details as possible about the environment and end-goal. This allows for the insulation blanket supplier to fully assess all of the factors impacting the component, and to come up with the most viable insulation options for the project. When clients allow the insulation providers to operate outside of the confines very specific blanket material makeup, the insulation experts are given the opportunity to play around with different materials, different shapes, and different overall outcomes, ultimately providing the best, and most elegant insulation solution.

Learn More

For more information, download our eBook on “Choosing the Right Insulation Supplier.” This step-by-step, comprehensive guide is designed to help you when choosing your next insulation supplier.

 

Clean Water and Removable Insulation Blankets – Sounds Good!

When one thinks of clean drinking water, many things may come to mind – natural water sources, reservoirs, treatment facilities, to name a few. But you may be surprised to learn that removable insulation blankets have a role to play in bringing that fresh water to your table.

Sometimes, that role has to do with heat management. But every so often, we are called upon to helped with sound and vibrations issues that can crop up in industrial facilities. And such was to case recently at a local water treatment plant, where the ‘Ozone Generators’ (used to disinfect the water at the treatment plant) were letting off some ‘not so good vibrations’, making the surrounding area uncomfortable to work in.
After a study recommended removable insulation as a solution to the excess noise and vibration, the Firwin team was called in to propose a solution.

The final product was a blend of 2″ thick mineral insulation coupled with a lb/ft² sound sheet. Since only ends of the vessel were to be covered, our design engineers also had to incorporate a unique fastening method to ensure that the blankets remained in place.
A follow up study done by the Generator manufacturer concluded that “by covering the Generator covered at both ends with a noise blanket, the noise was greatly reduced below the specification requirements of 80 dbm”.
If you need some help on a sound or vibration issue, feel free to give us a call.

Gimme Some Space – How Much Clearance is Necessary for an Insulation Blanket?

Insulation Blankets – Thicknesses and Clearances

It is important that there is enough room around any component being insulated to allow enough space not only for the insulation blanket, but also for sufficient air space between the insulation blanket and any nearby surfaces. A lack of air space between the outer surface of an insulation blanket and another object can cause a heat build up on the blanket’s outer surface and possible deterioration of the blanket material.
With the typical blanket thickness of one inch, the question arises as to what to do with applications that require removable insulation, but have low clearances around all or part of the components to be covered?
“Insulating areas with low clearances can be an issue, but it often depends on the particulars of an application and what the client is

wishing to achieve”, said Brett Herman, Firwin’s VP of Sales & Engineering. “For instance, sometimes just thinning out the insulation in areas of low clearance will still give the client sufficient insulation performance for the needs of his particular application. If, on the other hand, we are dealing with a relatively high temperature application, and the client has a particular temperature reduction goal that he wishes to achieve – this could be for personnel protection, or to ensure that nearby heat sensitive components are shielded from overheating – Whatever the reason, a lack of clearance means we are limited in the thickness of insulation that we can apply, which in turn can limit the amount of heat reduction that results”.

Solutions for Low Clearance Issues

So what solutions are available for situations where clearances restrictions would seem to limit the use of insulation blankets? “In situations where the client needs to achieve a certain temperature reduction, and there is insufficient room for the thickness that would be needed with standard fiberglass insulation, we have other solutions that we can offer to help the client achieve his goals”, said Brett.
“The first possibility we would look at is upgrading to a higher temperature insulation, such as MW1800 or FW2000+. These insulations have a higher temperature rating than our standard fiberglass FW1200, and sometimes when all that is needed is a small increase in insulation performance at a given thickness, these insulations will do the trick, with the price premium being relatively small “, notes Brett.
“If however, these do not suffice, the next step is to look at a high performance insulation such as Aerogel. It does carry a price premium, but it is one of the most effective insulators on the market, and will allow a client to achieve larger temperature reductions with a thin layer of insulation”.

High Performance Insulators

Insulation blankets are made up of 3 parts: The outer cover, also known as the `cold face`, the middle layer of insulation material, and the inner cover, or `hot face`. For most applications, the `standard` insulation blanket makeup of a silicone outer cover, 1 inch thick fiberglass, and a mesh inner liner, works fine. But certain applications demand alternative materials, be it because of very high temperatures, the environment where the insulation blankets will be operating, or in the case here, because of a combination of space constraints and desired insulation performance.

“Space constraints alone do not necessarily demand the use of an alternative insulator such as Aerogel”, said Brett. “It is possible that the customer`s needs can be met with a thin layer of fiberglass or superwool. An insulator like Aerogel is brought into the picture when the project needs insulation performance that typically could only be achieved with thicker insulation than the space allows.”

The chart below gives an indication of what kind of insulation effectiveness can be achieved even with a very thin layer of Aerogel insulation, compared to other insulations at standard 1″ thickness. As can be seen, even a thin 10 mm (approximately .4 inches) layer of Aerogel gives an insulation effectiveness near that of a 1″ thick fiberglass blanket.

Can removable insulation blankets keep pipe contents from freezing ?

Removable insulation blankets are great at managing heat. Be it by lowering the ambient heat in an engine room, protecting workers from hot surfaces, or shielding pipe contents from cold external temperatures, removable insulation covers are often the solution of choice where heat must be managed, but permanent insulation is not feasible.

Gate Valve with Glycol Tracing,,
wrapped with Removable Insulation Blanket

But there is one thing that removable insulation blankets cannot do – they cannot add heat. “We often get asked, particularly in cold weather applications, if our blankets can keep pipe contents or components from freezing”, said Brett Herman, Firwin`s VP of Sales & Engineering. “The answer is that while we can contain heat and delay heat loss by sheltering pipe components from cold external temperatures, our insulation blankets can`t add any heat that isn`t already there.”

Where insulation blankets can help, however, is where companies have some sort of heat tracing on their piping, and they want to minimize the amount of heat lost to the environment, and thus maximize the efficiency of their heat tracing.

Heat Tracing Challenges

“Companies, particularly in the oil and gas industry, and often in other industries such as mining, chemical, and food processing, use heat tracing to keep pipe or container contents from freezing. In cold temperatures, this heat tracing, if left un-insulated, becomes much less effective. Firwin has done a number of applications in this area, covering the component and the heat tracing, increasing efficiency and lowering the heat that escapes to the environment”, added Brett.

Like other removable insulation blanket applications, a properly designed blanket is key to ensuring that the heat tracing is properly insulated. “There are various type of heat tracing in the marketplace today – steam, glycol, hot oil, and electric”, said Rael Herman, Firwin’s VP of Production & New Product Development.

“In some instances, the entire component in covered by a ‘bolt-on heat jacket, changing the entire geometry of the part”. What they all have in common is the need to be wrapped tightly, so as to minimize the amount of heat that is lost to the environment. The challenge, when it comes to insulation blankets, is to design a blanket that will account for the sometime difficult geometries and penetration access points that often come hand in hand with heat tracing”, said Rael.

Firwin Blanket custom designed to fit glycol penetrations

Other Solutions

What about situations where the customer is not familiar with heat tracing, or where heat tracing is not a viable option ? “We have done applications where we have incorporated a heat source into the insulation cover (see previous article on “pizza blankets“)”, notes Brett. “Regardless of who supplies the heat tracing, what’s important is ensuring that the the insulation blankets are designed in such a way as to tightly cover the components in question, while allowing for penetration points that typically accompany tracing of valves and similar components”.

For more information on removable insulation blankets and heat tracing, please contact Firwin.

Firwin FireBlanket 2000 Can Take the Heat: It’s Proven to Withstand Temperatures as High as 2000-Degrees-Fahrenheit!

In our last blog post, we reviewed how the Firwin FireBlanket 2000 protects industrial safety valves and actuators.
We explained how a removable insulation blanket designed to protect safety valves is different from the standard insulation blankets you’ll find in industrial settings. In this blog post, we’ll talk more about the design of this type of fire blanket and explain how strong and durable it is (and why it needs to be this way!).

The Firwin FireBlanket 2000 is designed to keep the heat and fire away from the part. Typically, removable insulation blankets are composed of three layers:

1. the inner surface
2. the insulation material that rests on the inner surface
3. the outer protective cover.

In most cases, the removable insulation blanket’s inner surface is the “hot face” that comes in direct contact with the hot component. However, the Firwin FireBlanket 2000’s outer protective cover is the “hot face” and it needs to withstand extremely high temperatures. The FireBlanket is working “in reverse,” in layman’s terms: The outer surface and insulation are protecting the part from the heat, and the outer protective cover needs to withstand the very high heat of a fire.

There are also other variables that come into play in a fire safety situation at an industrial plant, and time is a critical factor. The valve or actuator being protected by the FireBlanket will need to function and operate properly to allow enough time for the operator to shut down a line. In situations like this, a FireBlanket’s outer cover may deteriorate too quickly if it’s not manufactured to meet certain fire standards. It’s also important to install the FireBlanket so that the component is properly protected – an improperly installed FireBlanket could impede the blanket’s ability to protect the component in case of fire.

The Firwin FireBlanket 2000 easily passed the UL rapid rise fire standard test (UL1709) where it was placed in a special compartment and blasted with 2000-degrees-Fahrenheit temperatures for 30 minutes. The fire blanket – including its outer protective – remained fully intact throughout the test, with no signs of deterioration at all. This proves that the Firwin FireBlanket 2000 can definitely take the heat!

A Fire Blanket Designed to Protect Industrial Safety Valves is Definitely Worth the Investment

You’ve probably heard about fire blankets that are designed to protect people in their homes or in their workplaces. These types of fire blankets are commonly used to extinguish and smother fires or as portable safety devices to wrap around people as they run for safety. But, have you heard about fire blankets that are designed to protect industrial safety valves and equipment?

Fire blankets designed to protect industrial safety valves are a type of insulation blanket, but they differ from standard insulation blankets used in industrial settings. Standard blankets are meant to insulate a part to maintain a high level of heat inside the part, or to keep heat away from the outside environment. For instance, in many industries, machine and equipment parts must be kept at the right temperature for the part to function properly; conversely, heat must be contained and kept away from the surrounding area, be it for personnel protection or protecting nearby heat sensitive components. However, fire blankets designed to go over a part – typically a safety-related part, such as a gate valve or an actuator – are designed to keep the heat and fire away from the part. These types of fire blankets are needed in many industries, including the oil and gas industry.

A fire blanket that protects a valve, an actuator or another part from fire and heat is a critical industrial safety tool. Gate valves and actuators function as safety mechanisms in industrial settings. In the event of any type of fire, including chemical fires, these actuators perform a safety shutdown to reduce fire spread and prevent or minimize disaster. The fire blanket is designed to go over a valve or part to protect its covering long enough for safety procedures to function properly. Designed to withstand a fire for up to 30 minutes, this allows enough time for an operator to actuate the safety function on a line and to perform a shutdown to keep the fire under control and to minimize potential damage.

The fire blanket we offer at Firwin works to protect industrial valves and actuators so that they can do their job in a critical safety situation, and they’re proven to work: Our fire blanket for industrial safety valves and parts was tested in a UL rapid rise fire standard test (UL1709) where it was placed in a special compartment and blasted with 2000-degrees-Fahrenheit temperatures for 30 minutes. The fire blanket remained intact throughout the test.

A fire blanket designed to protect industrial safety valves and equipment is definitely worth the investment! To learn more about the fire blanket, read the article Firwin FireBlanket 2000 in our e-newsletter.

Standard vs. “Donut” Flange Covers: The Differences and the Advantages

You may be aware that it’s important to have a covering for flanges—and it’s especially important that this covering be high quality and durable.
But did you know that there’s more than one kind of flange cover? In fact, we at Firwin offer two basic flange cover options: our standard cover, and our “donut” cover. Both are made of the highest quality materials and are reliable and effective, but they differ in several ways.
Let’s examine both, and what makes each unique and beneficial.
Standard Flange Covers
Our standard flange covers are one-piece insulation blankets that cover the flange, wrapping around it and closing through the use of draw strings—which compress the blanket at the edges, pulling it tightly around the flange.
This design allows for flexibility, so that the blanket will cover the flange even if the actual dimensions differ slightly from the assumed ones. This also means that in the case of an adjacent existing flange that restricts the amount of exposed pipe around which the cover is being placed, installation is still possible.
While flexibility and quality are always assured, one disadvantage is that installation can be a bit tricky for someone who isn’t familiar with insulation blanket installation, and can lead to an uneven appearance.
“Donut” Flange Covers
Alternatively, our donut flange covers consist of three parts—the main body cover and two end pieces—and this design allows for easier installation than our standard cover, and a smoother look. For these reasons, the donut flange covers are preferable in certain circumstances, particularly when the aesthetics are especially important and the user prefers a more customized appearance.
However, because of the extra material and design engineering, donut flange covers are more expensive than standard ones. Those who choose these covers are paying a premium for easier installation and a more seamless, smoother look.
Either way, whichever cover you choose, you can rest assured that the design and material quality will never be compromised. Like all of our products, both styles of flange covers are the best of their kind, and deliver exceptional quality every time.
Of course, if you have any questions or would like to know more about which is best for your needs, please don’t hesitate to contact us anytime.

Stopping Noise Pollution with Firwin

Often times when we think of noise pollution, a loud car stereo or perhaps a dog barking might come to mind. However, in the industrial world, noise or sound is not just a nuisance, it can actually be dangerous.

According to the NIDCD, noise-related deafness is a 100% preventable disorder. Using earplugs certainly helps, but the best way to avoid damage is to remove the sound from the environment. At Firwin, we understand how critical sound absorption and attenuation is in industrial settings, especially when it comes to diesel-powered equipment.

We bring up diesel-powered equipment because it can be found in a wide variety of industries. These machines can be extremely loud, especially when used in enclosed spaces. OSHA states that 85dBs is a tolerable noise level; the average diesel engine room can reach a deafening 120dBs, which is the same as a fireworks display. This level of noise pollution is dangerous for workers and the public.

The best way to combat noise pollution is to use panels, curtains, absorbers, and blankets. The experts at Firwin will often combine sound absorption technologies with our insulation. Firwin also has a selection of sound attenuation products like our AcoustiGuard™ Quilted Barrier/Absorber Curtain Panels and AcoustiGuard™ Pipe/Duct Lagging, among others. All of these sound attenuation products can help reduce levels of noise pollution in almost any situation, thus keeping you and your workforce safer.

While there are many factors to consider when choosing proper sound attenuation, including the thickness of the material, space around the equipment, and proper paneling, we understand the importance of limiting noise pollution and have the products to fit your specific application.

Increasing Engine Efficiency with Insulation Blankets

Many of today’s modern engines have two chargers that help to improve engine efficiency, and for which insulation blankets have an important role to play—turbochargers and charge-air coolers.

To understand how insulation can help you get the best performance from your engine, you first need to know how turbochargers work. The function of a turbocharger is to increase the mass of air that enters the engine, which leads to a greater air/fuel mix and boosts the horsepower. This is achieved by an internal turbine and corresponding compressor. The turbine, which can spin at speeds over 200,000 rpm, drives a compressor, which increases the amount of air entering an engine’s cylinders. Because the turbocharger’s turbine is powered by the engine’s own exhaust and because of the rapid rpms, turbochargers run at extremely hot temperatures.

The extreme heat generated by turbochargers can stress sensitive engine parts in the piston and cylinder area, and have a detrimental effect on surrounding engine components and employee safety.

Unlike turbochargers, charge air coolers run cold. Charge air coolers work to cool the compressed air that leaves the compressor before the air enters the engine. The increased density of the colder air means that more air can fit into the engine, for greater power. Charge air coolers thus improve the efficiency of the turbocharger and engine by allowing a greater mass of air to enter the engine at one time.

Insulation blankets are used in conjunction with both turbochargers and charge air coolers. For turbochargers, the blankets keep the heat from escaping the turbochargers and from entering the surrounding engine components. For charge air coolers, insulation blankets are found on the hot piping that leads from the turbocharger to the cooler, in order to protect personnel who might be in the area.

To learn more about how Firwin’s insulation blankets can improve the efficiency of your engine, please visit our website or contact us today!

Visit our new site!

In case you haven’t noticed already, Firwin has a newly designed website for customers in the petrochemical, chemical, and oil & gas industries. The new site, www.firwinthermowrap.com, sports an updated look and feel, while keeping the navigation and content similar to our main site. In redesigning this online platform of our capabilities, products, and applications, we closely considered our customer’s needs. We’ve catered to audiences that are both familiar and unfamiliar with our company by streamlining the navigation, adding useful images, and highlighting our most popular products.

The first things that’ll catch your eye are the content buckets on the home page. The content buckets compartmentalize chunks of information that are specific to a certain topic. Experienced users, for example, will be able to access information about our products quickly by scanning the links under the list of Products & Services. Others that are newer to Firwin can read about our past successes by clicking on our various case studies. The new site prominently places a lot of important information for customers both new and old right on the home page.

We’ve also added quite a number of high resolution photos to the site, in a photo gallery. These pictures not only serve to educate new customers about our Thermowrap product line, but also may inspire experienced professionals with new solutions to equipment issues. You can view our Thermowrap products at work in a variety of different applications. One notable image in our photo gallery shows our product installed around a gate valve with glycol tracing, a complex piece of equipment with many bends and components. The images in our gallery may help you visualize how your next insulation project might look upon completion.

Overall, we’re focusing this new site on our Thermowrap product line of removable insulation covers. We hope that the site serves our customers in the petrochemical, oil & gas industries well and is a useful resource for anyone looking for insulation covers. If you haven’t seen it yet, please take a look at our new site today!