While mostly underappreciated, industrial insulation is vital to the operation of many businesses. It keeps costs low, efficiency high, and protects your personnel as well as the environment. However, effective insulation isn’t just about adding layers upon layers of padding around pipes or heat sources.
You also have to consider the material that’s inside the insulation blanket.
While there are plenty of materials to choose from for industrial insulations, not all are created equal. Some materials are better suited toward one application than others. The choice of material depends on max temperature range, resistance to elements, and other factors.
Let’s look at some of the common materials used for industrial pipe insulation and other industrial insulation jobs today.
Fiberglass is one of the most common insulation materials available in the market. It’s typically used in the manufacture of blankets and industrial reusable insulation.
It offers high resistance to heat and microbiological attacks. Fiberglass also absorbs sound, doesn’t contribute to metal corrosion, and can withstand the effects of most chemicals.
The downside is that the temperature threshold is on the low side (about 1200 ºF). The finely woven glass may also harm employees not wearing eye protection, masks, and gloves.
Mineral wool refers to three different insulation material types: glass wool, rock wool, and slag wool. Glass wool comes from recycled glass, while rock wool is insulation made from basalt. The most common mineral wool in the US, slag wool, is manufactured from the slag from steel mills.
Like fiberglass, about 1200 ºF is its maximum temperature limit. It doesn’t absorb moisture and can muffle sound to a degree. While not combustible, mineral wool isn’t ideal for extreme heat applications.
Aerogel Industrial Insulation
Aerogel is an insulation material used by NASA to produce heat-resistant tiles. It can withstand up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, with little to no heat transfer.
The best thing about aerogel is that it’s highly efficient and lightweight. You only need a fraction of the thickness (about half or a quarter) to get an equivalent amount of insulation as other materials.
While it seems a near-perfect material for insulation, its advantages come with a hefty price tag. It has recently become more affordable and available, but it’s still the most expensive insulation material in the market.
Cellulose Material Solutions (CMS)
Cellulose insulation or CMS wool is made from recycled paper, cardboard, and other similar material. It’s one of the most eco-friendly forms of insulation.
You might think that this material catches fire quickly, but it’s the opposite. Its compactness limits the oxygen within the material, giving it a fire-retardant property.
CMS wool has a very good temperature threshold (2192 ºF), is odorless, and is resistant to corrosion and biological damage. The disadvantage of using this material is that some individuals may be allergic to newspaper dust. It’s also harder to apply compared to fiberglass.
Choose the Right Industrial Insulation Material
Heat loss almost always equates to a loss of revenue in any business operation. That’s why it’s crucial to choose the right industrial insulation material to wrap up and protect valuable structures and equipment.
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