Category Archive: insulation materials

Aerogel Insulation Solves a Variety of Insulation Challenges

When choosing the best insulation for your application, it is important to ensure that it closely fits the dimensions of the components it is meant to insulate to maximize coverage and insulate against heat loss.

It is equally critical to have a thorough understanding of the insulating material. The correct insulating material helps to ensure optimal equipment operation and protects personnel and sensitive equipment from dangerously hot surfaces and excessively hot air temperatures.

At Firwin Corporation, we specialize in finding the best insulation materials and designs for your specialized equipment and unique applications. Our comprehensive selection of insulation materials ensures that we will find the perfect insulation solution for your needs. One of Firwin’s most versatile insulating materials is Aerogel, a porous, solid material with a high percentage of air and a variety of unique properties.

What is Aerogel?

Aerogel is a class of low-density solid gels in which the liquid has been replaced with air or gas. The structural framework of Aerogel is typically composed of silica, so silica aerogel is often referred to as simply “Aerogel.” However, other structural materials have been used to create aerogels, including:

  • Carbon
  • Iron oxide
  • Organic polymers
  • Copper
  • Gold

Regardless of the material, the preponderance of air in an Aerogel’s structure gives it a nearly transparent appearance. The high gas content of Aerogels also gives them a variety of unique properties, including extremely low density, very low thermal conductivity, and very high porosity.

In insulation applications, Aerogel easily outperforms traditional fillers such as wool and fiberglass. In fact, Aerogel offers the same quality insulation with 1/3 the thickness of other insulating materials. However, Aerogel is expensive to manufacture and is rigid and brittle in its basic form, so it requires some supporting material. In addition, Aerogel withstands temperatures up to 1100 °F (593 °C), but is not suitable for extremely high-temperature applications that operate above that level.

Aerogel Insulation Benefits

Silica Aerogel is particularly useful for insulating applications and is one of the most effective insulators available. Although it is more expensive than other insulating materials, Aerogel makes up for its cost by the benefits it offers. Some of these include: 

  • Achieving greater temperature reduction with less insulation volume.
  • Thinner blankets mean easier installation and removal for maintenance and repairs, thereby reducing time and expenses. 
  • When used as a thermal insulation material, Aerogel helps to enhance equipment energy efficiency, thereby reducing energy costs and emissions.
  • Aerogel is especially valued for its extremely low thermal conductivity, which can be as low as 0.015 W m-1 K-1.
  • Aerogel is extremely water repellent. Its hydrophobic nature allows Aerogel to protect insulating and operating components from moisture damage and corrosion. 
  • Aerogel retains its shape in high-temperature settings and does not crack, clump, or sag like other insulating materials. It withstands vibration, impacts, and frequent traffic well, and can be reused after a thorough inspection.
  • Exceptional durability gives Aerogel a longer service life, which makes it an increasingly cost-effective option over time.

Aerogel Insulation Applications

Aerogel has been used as an insulating material for decades. Most notably, it has been used in NASA spacesuits for its exceptionally lightweight and durable nature. As manufacturing technology advances, Aerogel has become increasingly desirable in a broad range of insulating applications, including:

  • High-temp. With its ability to insulate higher temperatures with a thinner layer, Aerogel is particularly useful for high-temperature applications.
  • Limited space. Aerogel is ideal for compact environments where space is at a premium.
  • Lightweight. The lightweight nature of Aerogel makes it perfect for use with extremely delicate and fragile components.
  • Marine/high humidity. Aerogel’s hydrophobic characteristics make it useful in applications where moisture or water exposure can cause corrosion to underlying components.

Although Aerogel is typically more expensive than other insulating materials, its enhanced thermal insulating properties with thinner layers make it uniquely suited for confined spaces. In addition, its extremely lightweight characteristics make it ideal for use on light and breakable components that could be damaged by the weight of more traditional insulating materials. 

Firwin Corporation is pleased to offer a broad range of top quality insulation solutions that can be tailored to meet the particular needs of nearly any application. Our insulation products are found in myriad applications and industries, from industrial and manufacturing equipment to engines and exhaust systems. Download our eBook Removable Insulation Blanket Materials — A Guide from A to Z for more information on selecting the best insulation blankets and materials for your facility. 

 

Insulation Materials

Good insulation doesn’t just add layers around heat sources. It must closely fit the dimensions of the components to minimize heat loss and increase ease of use.

But when it comes time to decide the makeup of your insulation blanket, do you know anything about the materials that go inside?

The team at Firwin Corporation has extensive knowledge about insulation materials and is able to carefully match your equipment with custom insulation covers and liners, made of materials best suited for your unique application. We provide a wide selection of insulation materials to customers, ensuring that you obtain an insulation solution that fits your equipment and your facility’s needs.

Factors to Consider

Choosing the right material for your insulation covers is essential—and not every material is suited for every application. Here are  five different factors that would affect  material selection:

1. Maximum Temperature Range

Perhaps one of the most important considerations in insulation materials is the temperature range. Insulation materials should meet or exceed the high end of your standard operating temperatures and should account for potential high-temperature extremes. Insufficient insulation can be costly and dangerous.

2. Protection from the Elements

Gauge your equipment’s exposure to elements such as water, debris, chemicals, and UV radiation. You need to choose materials for your insulation covers which can withstand these environmental factors without degrading. While some protective elements may be added to insulation materials, others may cause stiffness or impact ease of use. All our materials have their own set of properties, but some are better at handling extreme environments than others. Depending on your equipment’s exposure, one kind of material may be better suited as insulation than others.

3. Safety and Regulatory Requirements

It’s important to always check the manufacturer’s certifications for facility equipment, especially where related to safety. Some industries also have more exhaustive UL and safety standard requirements than others. Firwin guarantees that our insulation covers are made with high-quality materials and our company is ISO 9001-certified. Our team of engineers and technicians work hard to meet or exceed all safety and regulatory requirements. Some safety requirements like fire retardancy will impact which materials we choose for your insulation based on the material properties.

4. Space

Space can quickly limit the type and amount of insulation you can add to a given system. You’ll want to look for thinner, flexible materials for use near tight system configurations and controls, but will have less restrictions on material type in more spacious areas.

5. Touch Temperature

While the maximum temperature factor details how much heat your insulation covers can safely handle, the “touch” temperature factor details the handling temperature on the outside of the cover. Some insulation materials will only reduce ambient heat in environments that just need lower—but not safe to touch—temperatures. Other insulation materials can thoroughly dampen heat in applications where the covers must be touched throughout the day.

While small or constrained environments may demand thinner material and/or slightly higher temperatures, a safe contact rating is still a priority for our manufacturing team. When you’re considering an adequate exterior temperature for your insulation material, it’s important to remember that fabric is safer at high temperatures than metal. Fabric doesn’t conduct heat as well as metal, so it must exceed 203° F (95°C) before becoming unsafe to touch (UL 2200).


Common Insulation Materials

So what insulation materials are available when designing an insulation? Some common materials/fabrics for commercial and industrial insulation covers include:

Aerogel

This top-tier material outperforms both wool and fiberglass. A 0.5-inch thick cover of Aerogel can perform just as well as a 1.5-inch thick cover of fiberglass, so facility managers often use this material in tight-fit environments. Aerogel is also very lightweight, which makes it ideal for use near fragile or light components. The material is expensive, however, and has a maximum temperature limit of 1100° F (593°C) .

CMS Wool

Cellulose material solutions (CMS) wool is compact, mitigates oxygen transfer through the material, and features fire retardant properties along with its high insulation value. Other properties include:

  • A maximum temperature limit of 2192° F (1200° C)
  • Odorless
  • Won’t contribute to corrosion
  • Sound absorbent
  • Resistance to decay, vermin, and mold

Fiberglass

Fiberglass is one of the most common insulative materials used in the fabrication of insulation blankets. Just like CMS wool, it’s odorless, won’t corrode metal, can absorb sound, and resists rot or vermin damage. However, it has a lower maximum temperature limit of 1200° F (649°C). Fiberglass can also harm workers through constant exposure if they don’t have adequate safety equipment covering their eyes, skin, or breathing passages.

Mineral Wool

The broad category of mineral wool materials includes:

  • Glass wool (made from recycled glass)
  • Rock wool (made from basalt)
  • Slag wool (most common mineral wool, made from steel mill slag)

Mineral wool has good thermal resistance, doesn’t absorb moisture, and can muffle a reasonable amount of sound. Its maximum temperature threshold is 1200° F (649°C) .


Download Firwin’s Insulation Materials Guide


Firwin’s Insulation Materials

Firwin Corporation uses specialty materials to keep your facility’s equipment well insulated and safe for workers. Our high-performance materials include:

Firwin 2000+ Insulation

This material has excellent thermal resistance, as well as resistance to chemicals or contamination. It retains its insulative properties even after oil or water spills once the material has dried. Firwin 2000+ is a patented wool material made from long AES fibers. It features low biopersistence and high maximum temperature thresholds.

Properties
  • Rated Temperature 2192ºF (1200ºC)
  • Absorbs sound
  • Easy to install
  • Excellent thermal stability and insulation
  • High strength levels and good tear resistance
  • Low heat storage
  • Low irritant levels and increased softness
  • Low thermal conductivity
  • Minimal outgassing due to cleaning and organic matter removal during production
  • Solubility in body fluids
Applications

This material is commonly used for the following applications:

  • Acoustical service
  • Annealing furnace linings
  • Cryogenic insulation
  • Expansion joint packing
  • Fire protection
  • Furnace kiln reformer and boiler lining
  • Furnace door lining and seals
  • Furnace repair
  • Investment casting mold wrap
  • Laboratory ovens
  • Removable insulation blankets
  • Stress-relieving blankets

Board Insulation 15080 RHF™40

This stiffer material contains basalt rock and slag. It’s a non-combustible material with excellent fire and thermal resistance, water-repelling properties, and vapor permeability. It has a melting point of 2150° F (1177°C) . This mineral wool can be safely used in high-heat applications up to 1200° F (649°C).

Properties
  • Fabrication and lamination options available
  • Chemically inert and non-corrosive
  • Non-combustible
  • Lightweight
  • Made from natural and recycled materials; free from CFC and HCFC
  • Low moisture absorption
Applications

Facility managers can use Board Insulation 15080 RHF™40 for multiple applications. Our team can manufacture the material to match different specifications without any loss in fire, thermal, and water resistance. One of the most common applications is pipe and tank wrapping thanks to the materials moisture resistance and insulating properties.

Rockwool Board Insulation 8LB

This non-combustible product is also composed of basalt rock and slag. It features strong water resistance while still maintaining vapor permeability. Its high melting point of 2150°F (1177°C) gives it excellent fire and thermal resistance.

Properties

  • Easy to install and use
  • Fabrication and lamination options available
  • Chemically inert and non-corrosive
  • Non-combustible
  • Lightweight
  • Made from natural and recycled materials; free from CFC and HCFC
  • Low moisture absorption
Applications

This material resists physical damage and compression from impacts. It’s also a useful insulation solution for applications that require excellent thermal, fire, and moisture damage resistance.

Firwin Vermiculite Coated Fiberglass Fabric

This woven fiberglass material has a medium weight and good resistance to high temperatures. It also features a vermiculite compound coating that adds thermal resistance.

Properties

  • Can withstand continuous heat during long-term applications
  • May be subject to some physical degradation after extended exposure to high heat
  • Has a continuous temperature threshold of 1200° F (649°C) and an intermittent threshold of 1500° F (816°C)
Applications
  • Flame and high-heat barriers
  • A replacement for silica or ceramic fabrics

Firwin 1200 Insulation Mat

This glass fiber material is mechanically bonded from long, uniform fibers. The needling process creates a highly uniform material that doesn’t include binders. This material provides long-term insulation in the face of high temperatures up to 1200° F (649°C).

Properties

  • Easy to install due to drapability and flexibility
  • Does not contribute to metal corrosion, decay, or mold
  • Resistant to vermin-related damage
  • Muffles sound and vibration
  • Odorless

Get More Insulation Material Information from Firwin

Firwin Corporation specializes in high-quality, customizable insulation covers and other insulation solutions. We create covers for a wide variety of industries and applications, including general industrial applications, diesel and gas engines, and exhaust systems.

Download our eBook, “Removable Insulation Blanket Materials — A Guide from A to Z,” for more information on selecting the best insulation blankets and materials for your facility.

Choosing the Right Material for Your Insulation Blankets – Part 2: General Insulation Materials

We have already discussed the criteria that need to be analyzed when choosing the correct insulation blanket material. With that out of the way, now it is time to look at the actual insulation materials typically found in insulation blankets.

  • Fiberglass – This classic insulation material is used in most standard insulation blanket applications. It is odorless, does not contribute to metal corrosion, is excellent at sound absorption, and resists decay, mold, and vermin. Fiberglass has a temperature limit of 1200°F (649°C), so it is not right for higher temperature applications.
  • CMS Wool – This material is slightly more expensive than fiberglass, but it has a much higher temperature limit of 2192°F (1200°C). It’s also odorless, does not contribute to metal corrosion, is excellent at sound absorption, and can withstand decay, mold, and vermin.
  • Mineral Wool – The big plus of mineral wool is its low moisture absorption qualities and excellent thermal resistance. Its temperature limits are the same as fiberglass, and it is a decent sound and vibration absorber. It is also slightly more economical than fiberglass.
  • Aerogel – This is the top-of-the-line when it comes to insulation materials. It is superior to both fiberglass and CMS wool and is ideal for a limited clearance application or where blanket weight is a concern. In fact, ½” thick Aerogel has the same properties as 1.5” thick fiberglass. As you might expect, it also carries with it a top-of-the-line price tag. It also has a slightly lower temperature limit of 1100°F (600°C).

Stay tuned for Part 3, where we cover the different materials available for your insulation’s outer and inner covers.

Choosing the Right Insulation Blanket Supplier

Choosing the Right Material for Your Insulation Blankets – Part 1: The Basics

When it comes to insulation covers, blankets, and jackets, one size does not fit all. In order to match your specific application with the correct insulation materials, quite a few factors need to be considered. An incorrect insulation blanket can cost you money, time, and even the safety of your workers and customers. Some of the factors that must be taken into consideration when selecting the correct insulation materials for your particular application include:

  • Maximum temperature range of the application in question – If your insulation cannot handle the temperatures your application demands, then it is at best, ineffective, and at worst, dangerous.
  • Desired outer surface “touch” temperature – What temperature do you need the outside of the insulation cover to be? Does it need to be ‘touch-safe’, or are you just trying to lower the ambient temperature in the surrounding area?
  • Exposure to elements (i.e. water, chemicals, debris, etc.) – What will your insulation have to go through? Can it handle the water, chemicals, and debris thrown its way?
  • Safety and regulatory requirements – Are there certain standards (i.e. UL, fire safety, etc) that your insulation covers must meet?
  • Space limitations – How much room do you have to work with? Space constraints can influence both the insulation thickness and type of insulation material recommended.
  • Frequency of insulation removal – If you need to remove the insulation often for equipment maintenance or adjustments, it will play a role in what fastening materials are chosen.
  • Aesthetic requirements – Last but certainly not least, do you need your insulation covers to match their surroundings or conform to a certain corporate color?

It is imperative that your insulation blanket provider is aware of these basic factors. Your Firwin rep can walk you through these steps and ensure that you get the right blanket for your application.

Choosing the Right Insulation Blanket Supplier