Category Archive: removable insulation blankets

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:

  • Chemical production and processing
  • Food processing
  • Mining
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Power generation
  • Storage
  • Water and waste processing

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:

Valve Covers

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.

valve insulation cover

Flange Covers

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.

manway insulation cover

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.

To learn more about our product offerings, contact us or request a quote today.

Engine Component Insulation

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.

The Problem

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.

MineWrap Removable Blankets

Our MineWrap line of insulation blankets was specifically designed by our research and development team to meet the specific needs of the underground mining industry.

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.

Permanent Hard Coat Composite Insulation

Permanent Composite Hard Coat Insulation

In addition to removable blankets, we also offer a high-performance permanent insulation coating. This option is ideal for components that do not require regular repair or maintenance.

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

metal foil insulationAnother 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.

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

Other Solutions

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.

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!

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.

  1. Firwin’s fastening systems are extremely strong, but it is important to avoid excess force when installing your insulation blankets.
  2. It isn’t always easy, but for the best service, keep your blankets as clean as possible.
  3. Promptly remove or clean off all chemicals that cause deterioration of aluminum or silicone coatings.
  4. Avoid oil saturation; this will render your blanket’s “non-combustible” characteristics ineffective. You will then need to replace the covers.
  5. Treat blankets like all parts of the engine and inspect them regularly.
  6. 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!