Selecting the proper insulation for industrial facilities is challenging for the owner and mechanical engineer due to critical success factors such as wide ambient and line temperature ranges, cycling systems, expensive piping and equipment, condensation, noise & process control, personnel and fire protection, all while requiring minimal downtime.
Aerocel EPDM closed cell elastomeric foam insulation for industrial facilities delivers a favorable return on investment for owners by saving energy while protecting equipment from corrosion under insulation (CUI) when insulating pipes, pumps, tanks, vessels and spheres.
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Insulation for industrial facilities encompasses a wide range of applications such as:
- Ammonia refrigeration
- Food processing
- Data centers
- Refrigerated warehouses
- Liquid natural gas
- Power plants
- Chemical processing
- Clean rooms
While there are many mechanical insulation types to choose from that offer a wide range of performance properties for demanding industrial applications, the selection process can be streamlined when taking the following critical operational factors into consideration:
- Pipe/equipment type: carbon steel, stainless steel, etc.
- Operating temperature
- Ambient temperature range
- Relative humidity
- Wind speed (exterior applications)
- UV protection (exterior applications)
- Mechanical protection (maintenance, severe weather, birds, etc.)
- Personnel protection
- Noise control
For applications when operating temperatures will be 60°F (16°C) and below, condensation control is a primary requirement when choosing insulation for industrial facilities. For these “below-ambient” operating conditions, condensation will naturally occur on the insulation surface if the pipe or equipment is not insulated with the proper thickness.
Condensation left unchecked can lead to decreases in energy efficiency, system performance, and ultimately catastrophic system shutdowns. When the correct insulation type, insulation thickness, jacket/vapor barrier, or installation are not installed or achieved, corrosion under insulation (CUI) can occur. Water vapor is essentially permitted to permeate through insulation seams, or the insulation itself, and slowly corrode the metallic mechanical equipment (i.e. piping) under the insulation. CUI is preventable and costly.
External stress corrosion cracking (ESCC) is another major concern with insulation for industrial facilities. Stainless steel piping & equipment is subject to stress cracking when subjected to tensile stresses, chlorides in the insulating materials, and moisture. ESCC typically occurs when system operating temperatures reach and exceed 140°F (60°C). It’s important to confirm with the manufacturer that the insulation under consideration is safe (chloride-free or with corrosion inhibitors) for stainless steel mechanical equipment.
When taking all of the above design concerns into account, closed-cell elastomeric insulation is a proven choice. Available on the market for the past 70 years, it is a top pick as a mechanical insulation for industrial facilities for the following reasons:
- Closed-cell structure
- Built-in vapor retarder
- Low permeability
- Low thermal conductivity
- Field or shop fabrication
- Easy to fabricate and install
Aeroflex USA’s Aerocel® ULP® (Ultra-Low Perm) brand of EPDM closed-cell elastomeric insulation is capable of addressing all of the insulation for industrial facilities performance criteria listed above:
- EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) is “non-polar”: EPDM does not induce or react with moisture (hydrophobic) when compared to traditional NBR/PVC closed-cell elastomeric foam insulation (hygroscopic)
- Low water vapor permeability (0.01 per-inch): does not require a supplemental vapor retarder for most applications
- Low thermal conductivity @ 0.245 (75°F): reduced installed thicknesses
- Continuous operating temperature range: -320°F to 257°F (-196°C to 125°C)
- Non-corrosive on stainless steel (ASTM C692)
- Passes ASTM E84 25/50 through 2” [50 mm] thick
- Naturally mold-resistant
Aerocel® ULP® (Ultra-Low Perm) is available in preformed tubes, pre-slit (SSPT™) tubes up to 16” IPS, sheets & rolls (with or without PSA backing) and a complete assortment of Aerocel fitting covers, adhesives, tapes, pipe supports, and coatings to ensure success and a favorable return on investment for industrial building owners.
Why non-polar EPDM elevates insulation preformance
Aeroflex's Aerocel brand of insulation products are unique among other closed-cell elastomeric foams in that they are classified “non-polar.” EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) is a non-polar compound and the basis for all Aerocel insulation.
Polarity is a function of the electrical charge across a molecular structure. When a material is classified as “non-polar,” it means that the electrical charges are evenly distributed across each molecule. This makes the molecules more stable, especially when exposed to water. As a result, Aerocel insulation degrades at a slower rate than other closed-cell elastomeric brands, especially when exposed to moisture, sunlight, ozone and a wide range of temperatures.
Because Aerocel EPDM insulation is hydrophobic, meaning that it does not react with water, it is inherently microbial-resistant and lasts longer, providing owners with a more favorable product life-cycle assessment and cost than other closed-cell elastomeric foam insulations.