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Energy Savings with Removable Valve Insulation

Getting the most out of your pipeline applications requires attention to heat—and sources of heat loss. The more heat you lose the higher the cost, so identifying key areas for insulation can go a long way towards increasing efficiency. Valves, flanges, expansion joints, and other irregular surfaces are common culprits of heat leakage, and maintenance often damages existing insulation. To circumvent these issues, many industrial professionals turn to removable insulation to maximize heat retention and increase pipe performance.

The U.S. Department of Energy recommends insulating any surface that reaches temperatures greater than 120° F, in order to protect personnel. The use of reusable insulation pads is pivotal in maintaining a safe environment: because the pads can be periodically removed for inspection and replaced as needed, they are an effective way to resolve current heat loss issues and prevent problems down the road.

Depending on valve size and operating temperatures, insulating valve covers can achieve impressive energy savings: the difference in heat loss between the un-insulated valve and the insulated valve operating at the same temperature. To get an idea of how much you can save, take a look at this helpful table from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Interested in removable valve insulation? Contact Firwin today to learn more about our hands-on service.

An Inside Look: Are Insulation Surface Temperatures Safe?

How hot does the outer surface of an insulation blanket get? When thinking about insulation temperatures, it’s important to remember that fabrics do not conduct heat; metals do. As a result, the relative temperature of a fabric surface can be higher, and still be safe to touch. However, it wasn’t until 1998 that a formal differentiation was made between metal and other surface types. For both, 140° F (60° C) had been the accepted standard temperature.

The UL220 Specification for Stationary Engine Generator Assemblies, issued in September of 1998, was the first standard to quantify acceptable temperatures. Based on this specification, fabric surfaces, such as insulation blankets, can reach temperatures up to 203° F (95° C), and still be safe enough for casual contact.

For more information about safe contact temperatures for insulation materials and more, please see our Firwin Insulation Insights FAQ.

Insulation Thickness: What’s Right for You?

Determining the right insulation blanket thickness for your application depends on a range of factors—ambient temperature, air flow velocity, material, emissivity, and more—and it’s not always obvious what level of thickness you need. While 1-inch blanket thickness typically suffices for most insulation applications, blankets can vary in thickness from ½ of an inch to 4 inches. Within that range, how do you know what’s right for you?

“It really comes down to the customer’s concern,” says Brett Herman, Firwin’s vice-president of engineering and customer service. “1-inch thick insulation is standard, and more than sufficient for most applications. If a customer has a particular need, be it keeping in as much heat as possible, or minimizing outer touch temperature or the heat in a room to a point below what a standard 1-inch blanket would accomplish, then we would look into thicker insulation.”

Thicker insulation, such as a 2-inch thick blanket, is more appropriate for power generation in prime power applications, where the engine is running constantly. With backup power applications, which only run periodically, 1-inch insulation is the norm.

Because each application must be evaluated on an individual basis, always seek professional advice. To learn more about insulation thickness levels and how to select what’s right for you, check our FAQ (see below) or contact Firwin today.

Insulation Blanket Thickness Tips:

Insulation Insights: 6 Tips for Proper Insulation Blanket Care

We’ve talked a lot about selecting the right insulation combination for a given project, but effective insulation depends on much more than materials: it depends on consistent and proper maintenance. Here are six easy tips to help you ensure proper insulation blanket performance and longevity.

1. The fastening system is more than suitable to hold the blankets in place. Care must be taken not to use brute strength when installing blankets.
2. For the best service, blankets should be kept clean.
3. Any chemicals that will cause aluminum or silicone coatings to deteriorate should be removed and cleaned off.
4. Should the blanket or insulation mat become saturated with oil, its natural “non-combustible” characteristics will no longer be effective and the blanket should be replaced.
5. Like all engine parts, blankets should be regularly inspected.
6. Care must be taken not to cut or damage the outer protective cover fabrics with sharp instruments.

For further information and care tips, please visit or contact us directly.

Green Insulation Spotlight: CMS Materials

As a result of legislation in Europe, developed in response to increasing awareness for health and safety regulations, a new group of fibers has been developed for temperature ranges higher than 1100⁰F (590⁰C). Produced in much the same way as mineral wool, these new fibers are made from calcium, magnesium, and silica, and are referred to as CMS fibers. CMS fibers are low bio-persistent (similar to glass), and form body-fluid soluble, non-ceramic, fiber blanket insulation. CMS fibers have been exonerated from all carcinogenic classification under Nota Q of directive 97/69 EC European Union. Because of this clearance, CMS fibers have replaced refractory ceramic fiber (RCF) for use within insulation across Europe. CMS insulation also exhibits better thermal conductivity characteristics than many RCF fibers, and is unaffected by incidental spills of oil or water. Thermal and physical properties are restored  after drying. A greener, safer asbestos-alternative, CMS materials are widely used in a range of insulation applications.

To learn more about CMS fiber insulation and its applications, please contact Firwin or visit our site today.

4 Asbestos Alternatives: Making the Right Choice

Although it’s common knowledge that asbestos poses numerous health risks, it has been difficult to find one fiber that covers the same temperature ranges and offers the same level of chemical resistance. These inherent characteristics established asbestos as the insulation of choice for engines, boilers, and piping, from the 1800s through the 1980s. As serious health risks were uncovered, asbestos was banned and the search for risk-free alternatives began.

Because no one single material adequately covers the full range of temperatures, from Arctic lows to the high temperatures experienced in engines of all types, it was necessary to develop a variety of materials to cover requirements for insulation purposes. Firwin has never used asbestos, and we’re dedicated to manufacturing the right material combination for a given project.

Below, we offer descriptions of several common alternative materials, and the appropriate applications for each.

1. Cellular glass. Impermeable to moisture, cellular glass is non-combustible and can’t burn. This material is often used in cryogenic insulation and some industrial applications.

2. Polystyrene and polyurethane. For low temperatures through 250 degrees F, foams, polystyrene, and polyurethane can often provide the solution. Environmental disposal must be taken into consideration.

3. Cellulose insulation. Often used in house insulation, cellulose insulation must be treated with fire retardants before use. When wet, it takes considerably longer to dry than fiberglass, and is not suitable for high temperature insulation.

4. Fiber insulation. Fiber insulation is made from melted minerals, which are then extruded to form fibers. These fibers can be processed into batts, blankets, boards, and preforms, as required by a particular application. Fibers used by reputable manufacturers feature a fiber diameter and length well in excess of ACGIH requirements. Because fibrous, non-organic materials can cause temporary discomfort and irritation, protective clothing should be worn. Types of fiber insulation include:

  • Fiberglass. Fiberglass is the preferred insulation for temperatures up to 1100 degrees F. In accordance with ACGIH requirements, the fibers are long and they dissolve in body fluids. House and building applications, boilers, and engine exhausts all benefit from various forms of fiberglass insulation.
  • Mineral wool and basalt wool. Made from melted volcanic rock and extruded into fiber, spun mineral wool is then chopped into separate fiber lengths and manufactured into blankets and boards. With a thermosetting resin to bind the fibers, these materials cover temperatures up to 1100 degrees F, much like fiberglass.
  • Ceramic wool. Ceramic wool insulation is suitable for insulating equipment at temperatures up to 2400 degrees F. Ceramic wool materials also exhibit better thermal conductivity characteristics than fiberglass.

As will all insulation materials, care must be taken in both selecting and using the above materials. Additional materials for higher temperature applications are also available—as is green insulation. Please check in next week to learn about the distinct advantages of going green.

Meet Our New Distributor: Evapar

Firwin is proud to announce a new partnership with Evapar, a distributor located in Evansville, Indiana. Evapar will service coal mines in Western Virginia and Kentucky, where our products play an essential part in keeping mine workers safe. Because the requirements for insulation within a mine are much different than other applications, we specially design insulation that can withstand the environmental hazards that coal miners and mining equipment face. Evapar shares our philosophy that exceptional service and outstanding products go hand-in-hand: together, we’re making sure our clients receive the support they need.

With a special training center located at Evapar’s headquarters, in Evansville, Indiana, Evapar features hands-on instruction and training for new service personnel. Courses centered on areas such as electrical, generator, fuel system, governor and transfer switch fundamentals equip new personnel with the skills they need to perform in the field, and provide an excellent opportunity for experienced personnel to expand their knowledge. We’re confident Evapar’s expertise and dedication to quality service will greatly benefit our clients, and we look forward to working with them.

For more information about Evapar, please visit their website here:

Questions or comments? We love hearing from you. Be in touch with us at:

Putting Custom Extrusion and Injection Moulding Insulation to Work

Firwin manufactures custom extrusion and injection moulding removable insulation blankets appropriate for injection moulder barrel heaters, pre-heat covers, and service throw insulation covers. Designed specifically for electrical connections and thermocouples, all of our insulation blankets are made from non-combustible, high-temperature materials. When used properly, these types of insulation blankets help our customers realize significant cost-savings by reducing energy input and minimizing heat loss.

A recent customer was using touch-safe perforated heatshields on an Italtech machine, which was located beside a shipping door. The heatshields were losing energy, resulting in poor temperature uniformity and ultimately causing quality issues. To solve the problem, the client installed Firwin insulation blankets— the insulation set quality back on track with a 7 month ROI.

For other stories on how extrusion and injection moulding custom insulation has helped our customers, or to request more information, please visit our site today.

Sound Attenuation Solutions

Although diesel-powered equipment offers countless advantages, the noise associated with these machines is less than ideal. Sound levels can reach deafening levels, posing a threat to operators, employees in the vicinity, and other nearby machining processes. As a result of our commitment to manufacturing the highest quality removable insulation blankets, many clients turn to us for sound attenuation solutions. While insulation blankets can help dampen sound, most sound attenuation solutions involve a combination of materials that are specially selected to suit a given application.

Material selection for sound attenuation is dependent on the frequency of the sound the material must block. Fiberglass and mineral wool are particularly well-suited to absorbing higher frequency sound, in the 1,000 to 4,000 Hz range. Lower frequency sounds are harder to absorb because of their long wavelengths, but typically the thicker the material or barrier, the more effective the absorption. To guide you in your material selection for sound absorption, please see our convenient guide to sound absorption materials and factors to consider.

Tapes vs. Blankets: Which One is Right for You?

It’s not always clear which type of insulation is best for your engine and exhaust components: with many different types of tapes, sleeves, and blankets available, finding what you’re looking for can be a headache. To be certain, each insulation variant has distinct advantages when used appropriately. With these benefits in mind, we’ve put together a few quick tips to make the selection process a little easier—so you can get the most from your insulation.

Tapes and sleeves are off-the-shelf, stocked items, and their flexibility makes them a good choice for many applications. In instances where you’re looking to insulate a variety of parts quickly, sleeves and tapes can work quite well. But when it comes to larger, thicker parts, it becomes less economical and more labor intensive. Wrapping tape around a large exhaust pipe, for example, would be difficult and time consuming. For these kinds of applications, insulation blankets are often the better choice. Because they can be manufactured in many different thicknesses and are easy to install, they work very well for engine and exhaust components. While tapes and sleeves are a great quick-fix, they don’t provide the same long-term coverage as insulation blankets.

Still not sure? Check out our useful chart for more pros and cons of tapes, sleeves, and blankets: