Archive: Oct 2011

Energy Savings with Removable Valve Insulation

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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?

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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?

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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

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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.