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Insulation Insights, Fall / Winter 2015Insulation Insights Fall 2015

Firwin FAQ: Can your removable insulation blankets keep my pipe contents from freezing ?

Blankets and Heat

Frozen Valve
Frozen Valve

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.

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

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

"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.

ControHeat Bolt on Jacket

"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.

Other Solutions

Pizza Blanket
Pizza Blanket

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.

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