Posted by Firwin on | Comments Off on R-Value of Insulation: Explore Our eBook
The first thought that most people have when they think of insulation is the puffy pink fiberglass typically used in the construction industry to provide insulation inside walls and attics. In applications of this type, fiberglass insulation is rated by the manufacturer with an R-value according to the material’s resistance to conductive heat flow.
What Is R-Value?
The R-value is a measure of a material’s thermal resistance. It is defined as “the quantity determined by the temperature difference, at steady state, between two defined surfaces of a material of construction that induces a unit heat flow through a unit area.” This quantity of thermal resistance, the material’s R-value, is an indicator of a material’s ability to resist heat loss and serves as a standard measure of the insulation’s effectiveness.
The R-value of a particular insulation type is dependent on several factors. Thermal resistance is determined by the material used and its thickness and density. It is essential to understand R-values because it is a crucial piece of the puzzle when determining what type of insulation materials will work best for specific applications.
When R-Value Is Important
R-value is a relative number, which means that the more effective a type of insulation is, the higher the R-value rating. The R-value of insulation is measured by determining the material’s thermal resistance at a given temperature.
In the home and building industry, the insulation R-value is usually calculated at 75°F or 24°C. However, when it comes to insulating engines, exhaust systems, and other industrial applications, temperatures can vary greatly and get extremely high. In these types of conditions, R-values become less meaningful because the value fluctuates with temperature. The R-value of an insulator at 500°F will differ significantly from its R-value at 750°F.
Additional Variables That Impact R-Value
When considering the effectiveness of insulation material, R-value is just one of many variables that can affect insulation performance. You should also account for the insulation’s environment and how it will affect its performance.
Environmental conditions that could impact the R-value and performance of insulation material include:
Exposure to Elements Like Moisture
Insulation will sometimes absorb condensation or moisture in humid conditions, which can drastically reduce the material’s R-value.
Resistance to Compression
Increased insulation thickness typically increases the R-value proportionally. However, with loose-fill insulation, compression of the insulation under its own weight causes the R-value to not change proportionately with thickness.
For insulation to perform as required for the application, the material must be rated for the proper temperature.
Vibrations from machinery and mechanical equipment can weaken some types of insulation, making it crucial to choose the right type for your application.
Insulation Thickness & Density
The R-value of a material is dependent on the type of insulation, its thickness, and its density. When determining the R-value of insulation that consists of more than one layer, the values of each layer are added together.
Posted by Firwin on | Comments Off on Does Insulation Cause Corrosion?
We are commonly asked this question: Does insulation cause corrosion? Given the many expenses already involved in plant maintenance, it makes sense to carefully consider factors that might contribute to corrosion—including improperly maintained insulation.
Corrosion under insulation (CUI) is a well-documented problem in processing plants, occurring when moisture builds up underneath the surface of an insulating sleeve. Depending on the piping and insulation material types and the moisture source, substrates underneath insulation maybe vulnerable to multiple corrosion types, such as:
All of these processes have the potential to severely damage pipes or containers, leading to holes and leaks that can shut down segments of a facility—or, in the worst case scenario, the entire facility.
Unfortunately, no combination of metal and insulation is completely immune to CUI, so vigilant maintenance is critical to prevent these outcomes. Still, certain solutions can minimize the risk, including those that can be easily removed and replaced for routine assessment and repair. Firwin’s removable blanket insulation offers one example of a configuration that minimizes CUI risk without sacrificing the efficacy of the system.
The Problem: Causes and Consequences of CUI
Part of the difficulty in preventing CUI is that it can occur under so many conditions. Factors that may contribute to heightened risk, include:
A constant temperature above freezing but below boiling, which is the perfect environment for condensation to form.
Subpar insulation that contains corrosive compounds or that degrades quickly.
Insulation placed improperly near sources of water.
The biggest risk factor for CUI, however, is the presence of certain chemicals that react with the metal’s surface to erode its structure. This can take several forms, depending on the specific compounds present. For example:
Galvanic corrosion is common when the insulation becomes moist in the presence of either an electrolyte or a salt. When this happens, a current can flow between the soaked insulation and the metal surface, inducing serious surface damage.
The presence of strongly basic or acidic substances can also be problematic. When granular insulations absorb both water and an alkali or acid, the chemicals can remain on the insulated metal’s surface even as the water evaporates, leading to alkaline or acidic corrosion.
Chloride from industrial processes or natural sources is particularly harmful to stainless steel surfaces, especially when it becomes imbued in a wet insulating sleeve. Chemical corrosion can occur even when the processing equipment itself does not contain harsh chemicals—chloride, for instance, can come from rainwater, a common source of CUI.
While different factors are responsible for each of these categories of CUI, all corrosive damage may be worsened by rigid or permanent insulation. Ideally, technicians should be able to regularly remove insulation to inspect the underlying metal for signs of wear. Failure to do so allows chemical damage to compound until the vessel is irreparable.
Additionally, a permanently insulated fixture might accumulate corrosive damage more quickly as buildup can’t easily be cleaned during routine maintenance. These challenges are especially pronounced in process facilities that routinely handle high quantities of potentially corrosive chemicals, or in piping that experiences routine exposure to the elements.
The Solution to CUI
The primary solution to CUI is to replace rigid or permanent insulation with a removable solution. In doing so, it becomes much easier to monitor the state of process piping without causing additional damage to the surface.
The benefits of this investment are substantial. Removable insulation not only makes routine inspections and maintenance easier, but it also facilitates easier repair. Permanent insulation is difficult to replace without damaging the pipe, but removable covers can easily be taken off of individual segments of machinery or process piping when the exterior begins to breakdown. This advantage can add up to substantial savings over the lifetime of your equipment.
Firwin Insulation Solutions
All of Firwin’s removable insulation covers are engineered for easy access without sacrificing performance. Our covers cling closely to the piping or vessel for a snug fit that repels moisture. Lower quality removable blankets lack this excellent fit, which can sometimes hasten corrosion (rather than preventing it) by allowing additional avenues for moisture to enter.
We produce removable insulation solutions to fit various engine parts and piping systems, including diesel engines that generate enough heat to create a higher risk of CUI. Our solutions not only contain and manage this heat, but do so while mitigating the risk of corrosion.
To learn more about our completely customizable options for insulation and corrosion protection, get in touch with Firwin’s team today.
Posted by Firwin on | Comments Off on What to Know About Boiler Insulation
According to the guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Energy, any surfaces with temperatures above 120°F should always be insulated. This includes all parts of boilers, such as doors, steam drum covers, and piping. While frequently overlooked, boiler pipe insulation is essential; proper boiler insulation leads to energy conservation, employee safety, and increased efficiency in all types of operations.
The Benefits of Boiler Pipe Insulation
Significant heat loss can cause a number of issues, including loss of money and hazardous work environments. Installing heating pipe insulation is an excellent way to prevent these problems and take advantage of a wide variety of benefits.
Loss of heat means loss of energy, which leads to higher expenses. If boiler pipes are left exposed as they carry heated fluid, more energy is needed to keep the boiler functioning at the optimal level. Boiler pipe insulation will prevent the loss of thermal energy and maintain low energy costs.
When you lose significant amounts of heat, the system needs to work harder to reach high temperatures and keep fluids heated. By insulating boiler pipes, you ensure your boiler can heat up more easily and rapidly. This saves both time and money.
Insulated boiler pipes can raise hot water temperatures by 2° F to 4° F higher than uninsulated pipes. In the long term, this can lead to 3-4% energy savings every year. If you’re interested in learning exactly how much money you might be losing due to lack of insulation, there’s now a way for you to find out: the National Mechanical Insulation Committee has developed a calculator that lets you determine potential energy savings from both bare and insulated pipes, as well as flat surfaces.
Proper insulation creates a safer work environment for you and your employees. When boiler pipes are left uninsulated, they become extremely hot. Employees working near these structures are then at risk for serious burns and other injuries if they come into contact with the heated component. With proper insulation, you will protect your employees from injury and prevent costly lawsuits.
When deciding to install boiler pipe insulation, it is vital to consider the different types available. There are two main options from which to choose: removable or permanent. Here are some details about each one’s specific functions and benefits to help you pick the best option for your needs.
Removable insulation is incredibly flexible, making it ideal for situations where you frequently need to inspect or maintain your system. It is quick and easy to install and can be removed whenever you need access to your component. This makes it a convenient way to effectively reduce your heat and energy loss without committing to a permanent fixture.
Permanent insulation is common in situations where consistent access to the system is not needed. This type of insulation is durable and sturdy, permanently enclosing the component being insulated. It is ideal for small spaces that require long-term insulation but do not need to be frequently accessed.
There are a variety of factors that go into choosing the appropriate material for your insulation :
The maximum temperatures reached by the insulated component
Whether the component is indoors or outdoors
Potential exposure to the elements
Desired “touch temperature” of the component’s outer surface
Desired system heat retention
Necessity and frequency of insulation removal
Contact Firwin for Boiler Pipe Insulation
At Firwin, we manufacture a wide range of insulation products for every need, from boiler pipe insulation to industrial applications. Since 1982, we have been creating high quality products to ensure the safety and peace of mind of our clients.
To learn more about our boiler pipe insulation, contact us today to speak to our experts and discuss your specific project.
Posted by Firwin on | Comments Off on Guide to Heat Tracing
Temperature regulation poses a challenge for many industrial piping processes. Even in warmer climates, heat loss can prevent pipes from remaining at the optimal temperature for their operations and contents, which threatens productivity and product quality, respectively.
Heat tracing, also known as trace heating, offers a solution to controlling pipe temperatures. The system involves running an electric heating element along the length of a pipe, often coupled with insulation, to facilitate even heating. The combination of thermal insulation with an active heating element provides a finer level of temperature control for pipes and vessels that is critical to many industries.
Why Use Heat Tracing?
Heat tracing is a highly versatile method of maintaining pipe or vessel temperatures. For some applications, it is used to prevent freezing during the winter, which is a significant threat to productivity. Even in applications where freezing is not a primary concern, heat tracing is one of the more efficient ways to ensure that pipes and vessels remain at the proper operating or processing temperature.
How Does Insulation Complement Heat Tracing?
To maximize the benefits of heat tracing, many installations also incorporate insulation. The layer of insulation bundles the heat tracing element and pipes together, helping maintain the interior temperature, reduce thermal loss, and maximize energy efficiency.
Applications of Heat Tracing
Applications for heat tracing commonly center around the oil and gas industries. Production, processing, and storage equipment in these industries generally require the maintenance of specific operating temperatures for optimal performance and productivity. For example, high temperatures are necessary to bring oil or gas to the surface during extraction. Some of the other functions of heat tracing in the oil and gas industries include maintenance of set temperatures during refining and storing processes and winterizing processing facilities in colder climates.
Additional industries where heat tracing is employed, include:
In these industries, heat tracing represents a cost-effective and energy-efficient management solution for applications like:
Winterizing or freeze protecting pipes, tanks, and storage vessels
Maintaining the temperature of storage tanks and hot water distribution pipes
Integrating underfloor, roof, or gutter heating
Heating walkways, roads, and other passenger and vehicle access areas to minimize snow and ice buildup
Heat Tracing Solutions From Firwin
An effective heat tracing setup requires high-quality components, including insulation, which largely influences how efficiently the system maintains and manages heat. At Firwin, we provide a full range of high-performance insulation for use with heat tracing.
Our durable insulation blankets—also referred to as insulation covers or jackets—are our flagship product. Available in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and configurations, all of our blankets are crafted from multi-layered performance materials and feature secure fastening systems to ensure a snug fit. No matter what component you’re seeking to protect, we offer a standard or customized insulation solution that can reduce the amount of heat loss in your system, maximizing the efficiency of your heat tracing.
Our extensive inventory of insulation blankets includes:
Exposure to extreme temperatures and chemicals reduces the active service life of upstream equipment. Our tight-sealing valve covers fit over important junctions, keeping them safe from temperature fluctuations and other damaging environmental factors.
Uncovered flanges can lead to heat loss at multiple points of a piping system. To prevent this, our removable insulation blankets are custom-designed to fit over all types and sizes of flanges.
Vessel and Manway Covers
In addition to maximizing efficiency, maintaining safety is another key concern regarding pipe tracing. In certain situations, vessels and manways can become somewhat hot, which can pose a risk to operators, service technicians, and passers-by. To prevent burns, our vessel and manway covers both trap heat and prevent direct contact with hot surface metal.
Instrumental Panel Covers
Complex and sensitive instrumentation also requires protection. Our removable insulation blankets provide excellent heat retention to the equipment as needed while allowing for ease of removal and reapplication.
Contact Firwin for Heat Trace Insulation Solutions
Heat tracing allows for efficient and cost-effective thermal regulation. The addition of insulation further increases its advantages. At Firwin, we carry high-quality insulation solutions for a wide range of industrial applications.
Posted by Firwin on | Comments Off on Engine Component Insulation
Essential to a wide range of industrial applications, engines also introduce an element of risk into a work environment due to the intense levels of heat they can generate. Engine component insulation is designed to contain the heat produced by engines, protecting employees and sensitive equipment while optimizing engine performance.
Industrial engines generate heat which can:
Raise ambient temperatures within the working environment to uncomfortable levels
Cause injury or illness to employees, such as burns or heat exhaustion
Damage nearby sensitive equipment and components, such as cables
These risks are especially potent for newer engines and smaller working environments. Newer engines are designed to reduce carbon emissions by running at higher temperatures (typically meeting or exceeding 800°F or 425°C). In smaller, more confined environments (such as those found in the underground mining industry), employees are at a greater risk of receiving severe burns due to contact with exposed metal engine parts.
Engine Component Insulation Solutions
At Firwin, we manufacture a variety of insulation products suitable for protecting employees and equipment from excessive engine heat, including:
Removable Insulation Blankets
Our removable insulation blankets are engineered from three layers of material for highly effective heat insulation. The three layers typically consist of:
An inner layer of steel mesh
A middle layer of insulation medium
An outer layer of silicone-coated fiberglass
The design of the blanket—its thickness and insulation medium—can be altered for greater heat reduction. For particularly demanding applications, other customization options include the integration of sound or fluid barrier material.
The flagship MineWrap™ Mark II features a flame-resistant foil inner liner lined with a stainless steel mesh. This design seals the insulation from oil or hydraulic fluid, thus eliminating a potential fire hazard. For more demanding applications, the MineWrap™ Mark III blanket features a reinforced stainless steel foil exterior covered by a layer of stainless steel mesh with options for additional joint safety seals.
Being durable and virtually impenetrable to contaminants, MineWrap™ is the insulation blanket of choice for many mining operations and mining equipment manufacturers.
We apply the composite coating in a thin layer that both insulates the target material and protects it from combustion in the event of an engine leak or malfunction. Our Hard Coat product offers other advantages, such as:
Suitability for use in confined environments
Non-flammability and non-combustibility
Suitability for high-temperature environments
Burn protection for personnel
Reduction of ambient temperatures
Greater durability than removable blankets
For this type of insulation solution, we apply the coating to your disassembled components in our facility, then ship them back to you on a mutually agreed-upon timeline.
Stainless Steel Foil Insulation
Another permanent insulation option is metal foil insulation (MFI), which we pre-install over exhaust components, such as tubing, piping, and elbows. This insulation solution consists of insulation material encapsulated by an outer foil layer that is permanently welded to the engine component.
Our MFI is:
Durable (it is capable of withstanding steam washing and chemical exposure)
Leak-free (it serves as a barrier to any fluids that may seep into the insulation)
Customizable (it can be designed to fit different component shapes and application requirements)
With these considerations in mind, our MFI solutions also offer a tighter fit and more aesthetically-pleasing finish than insulation blankets. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) interested in this insulation solution can ship components directly to our factory where we custom fit and install the MFI before returning the parts.
Contact Firwin for Engine Component Insulation
With Firwin’s highly customizable range of engine component insulation solutions, you can prevent even the most powerful engines from harming your employees and equipment. Our industry-leading removable and permanent insulation solutions are designed to retain extreme heat and maximize engine performance.
For more information about our engine component insulation solutions and which would best suit your application, visit our comprehensive resource library or contact us to discuss your insulation needs.
Posted by Firwin on | Comments Off on 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
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.
Posted by Firwin on | Comments Off on A Look at Firwin’s Product Information Guide
At Firwin, we always want to make sure that you get the most out of our removable insulation blankets. When you purchase any of Firwin’s removable insulation covers for the first time, we not only provide you with a high quality product, but also a world-class product information guide. The 24-page guide covers a wide variety of topics including:
An overview of removable insulation blankets
Detailed installation instructions including common errors to avoid
A closer look at harder to identify parts like segmented elbows, flanges, and cones
Alternative fastening methods
How to care for new blankets
How to keep the highest level of safety during usage
The guide includes diagrams and photos, allowing those who are new to our insulation blankets to properly install them.
While we provide top quality covers, we also want to provide top quality service. Is there anything missing from the guide? If so, let us know!
Posted by Firwin on | Comments Off on Tips on Caring for your Removable Insulation Blankets
At Firwin, we take pride in the performance and longevity of our removable insulation blankets. We manufacture all of our products to withstand the toughest and most challenging environments, be it hundreds of feet underground or on the roughest seas. In order to make sure our insulation jackets maintain peak performance, it helps to follow a few easy care tips.
Firwin’s fastening systems are extremely strong, but it is important to avoid excess force when installing your insulation blankets.
It isn’t always easy, but for the best service, keep your blankets as clean as possible.
Promptly remove or clean off all chemicals that cause deterioration of aluminum or silicone coatings.
Avoid oil saturation; this will render your blanket’s “non-combustible” characteristics ineffective. You will then need to replace the covers.
Treat blankets like all parts of the engine and inspect them regularly.
Last but not least, always take care not to cut or damage the outer protective cover fabrics. It helps to limit the usage of sharp instruments around all insulation blankets.
If you follow all of these steps, you can automatically increase the lifespan of your removable insulation blankets. If you have more blanket care questions, please contact one of our insulation blanket experts today!