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Industry Specific FAQ's
How Does Insulation Help Control Condensation?

When piping and equipment operate at temperatures lower than the ambient air, moisture in the air will condense if the exposed temperature is below “Dew point” or freeze if the temperature is below “Freezing Point” - or on the cold pipe surface. It can occur on exterior surface of the insulation when we use insufficient thickness. If we do not provide Good “Vapour Retarder” or “Vapour Barrier”, such condensation or freezing can occur on the pipe /vessel surface causing the insulation to soak and the condensed water to freeze. This is a total breakdown situation water on the pipe/ vessel surface also causes corrosion which is providing sufficient insulation thickness couples with an effective vapor retarder system is those essential in all cold insulation work.

Moisture in any form is cause for first deterioration of insulation moreover, if can cause mould growth and create slippery and unsafe floors in our work place.

What are the Insulation Selection Criteria for High Temperature Systems?

High temperatures are encountered in high pressure steam lines, process lines, exhaust systems, or ovens generally operating at 300°c to 800°c range. Protection of metal casting itself, reduces of heat loss and protecting personnel from burns are the main objects for installing insulation on heated systems in this temperature zones.

There are insulations specially designed for high temperature systems - and selecting the right one should be based on the unique requirements of the system you are insulating. Be sure to examine the insulation for its thermal values likes its maximum service temperature and its thermal conductivity profile and other performance values carefully. In addition, you may want to ask the following questions before providing an insulation recommendation:

1. What is the process?
2. What are the process temperatures?
3. What's in the process and in the exterior environment?
4. Is the piping & equipment located where people can come in contact with them?
5. Is fire an issue?

Why thermal conductivity is important at high temperature?

Low thermal conductivity ensures better thermal performance at lower thickness.

Thermal conductivity of an insulation material is a measure of its ability to prevent passage of heat at a particular thickness, in defined conditions.

As thermal conductivity decreases, therefore, a lesser thickness of insulation is required to achieve the same thermal insulation performance. This is particularly important with higher temperatures where very high thickness may be required with a typical commercial insulation like low density glass fibre. An efficient insulation allows effective levels of thermal insulation to be achieved using lower thickness products, which are easier to install, protect and encapsulate.

How to check the thermal performance of insulating material?

Thermal performance of an insulating material is affected by two factors, thickness of the material (t) and its thermal conductivity (‘k’ value). The thermal performance of a material at a particular thickness is known as its thermal resistance.

What is meant by K-Factor, R-Value and C-Factor?

K-Factor (Thermal Conductivity Factor) - The measure of energy in Watts that pass through one square metre of a homogeneous substance, 1 metre thick, for each degree K temperature difference. The lower the K-value, the higher the insulating value. Textbook definition: The time rate of steady heat flow through a unit area of a homogeneous material induced by a unit temperature gradient in a direction perpendicular to that unit area.

Insulation materials usually have K-Factors less than one and are reported at what is called Mean Temperature. To determine the mean temperature, measure the surface temperatures on both sides of the insulation, add them together and divide by two.

When comparing the insulating value of different types of insulations, it's important to look at K-Factor and the mean temperature. As mean temperatures rise, so does the K-Factor.

C-Factor (Thermal Conductance Factor) - C-Factor is the number of Watts which will pass through 1 square metre of material with 1°K temperature difference for a specified thickness. The C-Factor is the K-Factor divided by the thickness of the insulation. The formula is the reciprocal of the R-Factor formula. The lower the C, the better the insulator.

R-Value (Thermal Resistance Value) - R-Value is a measure of the ability to retard heat flow rather than to transmit heat. "R" is the numerical reciprocal of C, thus R=1/C. Thermal resistance designates thermal resistance values: We commonly come across R values demanded in BTU ft – lb (British) units for instance; R-11 equals 11 resistance units in that unit. It works to 0.52 m2°K/W in metric system. The higher the "R", the higher (better) the insulating value.

What is the Difference between Mean Temperature and Ambient Temperature?

Temperature is a property unto itself. It is not a measure of the amount of heat present. For example, if you pour two cups of coffee, one to the brim, and the other only halfway, the temperature will be the same in both cups, but the partially filled cup will only contain half the quantity of heat of the full one.

Mean Temperature is the average of the sum of a hot surface temperature and a cold surface temperature. Insulation conductivity (K-Factor) is tested at a number of mean temperatures to develop conductivity curves that simulate actual service conditions under which insulation systems are used. All conductivity figures (K, C, R) must be qualified by a mean temperature.

Ambient Temperature is the average temperature of the medium, usually air, surrounding the object under consideration.

Do I just need high R-value?

No. R-value is the measurement of only one type of heat loss (conduction), which is the transfer of heat through a solid material. R-value does NOT account for radiant heat loss or convective heat loss, which is the transfer of heat by physical air and moisture leakage and may along with latent heat associated with condensation of vapour, may account for up to 60% of HVAC effort.

Use of closed cell insulation like polyurethane / Polyisocyanurate, used with correct position of vapour barrier, drastically reduces HVAC loads due to all such paths of loss in a building.

Which insulation product to choose?

LII manufactures PUF/PIR, Rockwool & Ceramic Fiber Insulation products in a variety of forms for different applications.

Which product type to choose for which application will depend on a number of criteria:

Nature of the application - Pipework, for instance, can be insulated with either roll material or special preformed pipe sections - the latter are engineered to suit specific pipe diameters and are quicker to install sometimes provided covering having sealing flaps for reduced cold bridging, however, roll material can be more economical in certain cases. For higher diameter pipes and vessels. Lamella products offer higher compression resistance for walk-on applications.

Operating temperature - Rockwool is light, flexible and economic, making it the preferred choice for many industrial thermal and acoustic insulation applications where operating temperatures are between 250°C and 500°C. For higher temperatures, Ceramic fiber products are available to provide efficiency performance.

Operating criteria - For areas subject to fluctuating temperature and vibration, for instance, such as chimneys and exhaust systems, wired mats offer flexibility combined with mechanical strength.

How Do You Choose the Right Insulation for the Job?

Finding the 'right' insulation begins with asking some basic questions such as:
What is the operating or line temperature of the system your customer needs to insulate?

In general, systems needing insulation can be divided into three temperature ranges: Low Temperature Range (-160°c to 65°c) cryogenic Refrigeration, cold/chilled water and commercial heating and cooling systems.

Medium Temperature Range (65°c to 350°c) Hot water and steam, power/process piping, ovens and stacks.

High Temperature Range (350°c to 850°c) Power generation, turbines, kilns, smelters, exhaust systems and power piping.

What kind of things should you consider when insulating cold process systems?

Low temperature systems such as those needed for cryogenic storage of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Ethylene, Propylene, Propane, Butane, Ammonia are typical Industries applications refrigeration or chilled water range from -160°c to 0°c.Refrigeration, warehouse, cold stores, Supermarkets and food processing are typical of low temperature commercial applications. Chilled water systems such as those used in HVAC systems generally range from 0°c to 20°c.

Chilled water systems require special attention because one must design for protection against external condensation at all costs and hence take due case to consider the effect of moisture or water vapor transmission (WVT) on the insulation system condensation and drips in such systems can cause expensive damage to buildings interiors.

WVT tells you how much water will be transmitted through an insulation system under certain conditions. Different insulation systems, vapor retarders and installation methods will affect the WVT of the system. Condensation control and process control are two major reasons for insulating low temperature systems. When equipment or piping operates at temperatures lower than the ambient air, moisture in the air will condense or freeze on, or within, the insulation surface - or on the cold pipe surface. Unless the system is protected by sufficient insulation thickness and by adequate vapor retarders, the insulation may become wet, causing corrosion, and causing it to become ineffective.

Is the system outdoors or indoors - or a combination of both?

This will help you determine which part of the system is outdoors and the insulation needs protection from weather and which are other from corrosive atmospheres, water or chemical washdowns, abuse or other conditions.

What is the function of the 'facing' on insulation?

The facing material is generally a vapor retarder and is usually applied toward the "warm-side" of any insulation provided over a cold system in buildings; it must be positioned to help resist the movement of warm moist vapor towards cold surfaces where it can condense. In hot, humid climates, a vapor retarder may not be needed. Since building construction practice incorporates dense fairly impermeable elements like concrete or however, winter conditions demand very careful examination of where to locate the vapour barrier.

How do you determine which is the right protective covering and finish?

The efficiency and service of insulation is directly dependent upon its protection from moisture entry and mechanical and chemical damage. Choices of jacketing and finish materials are based upon the mechanical, chemical, thermal and moisture conditions of the installation, as well as cost and appearance requirements. Protective coverings are divided into six functional types:

  • Weather Barriers
  • Vapor Retarders
  • Mechanical Abuse Coverings
  • Corrosion and Fire Resistant Coverings
  • Appearance Coverings and Finishes
  • Hygienic Coverings
Where Can I Get Information on Specification Requirements?

Understanding specifications is an important part of the job. LII provides users with a guideline on the optimum insulation specifications best suited to the situated and needs of a specific user.

Important testing, codes and standards setting organizations critical to ensuring the performance of insulation procedures and systems include:

  • BIS – Bureau of Indian Standards.
  • ASTM—American Society for Testing Materials
  • ASHRAE—American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers.
  • BEE- Bureau of Energy efficiency.

Some of the performance specifications that you will need to become familiar with on the job include water vapor transmission, compressive strength, and fire hazard classifications.

While checking the manufacturers' specification sheets for specification compliance, examine if he is a single material vendor. Such a source of information could be one sided and misleading. It is mos appropriate to go strictly by the data from the standards, covering a particular material / family of materials rather than from a sales promotion material.

What is the Purpose of Insulation?

To reduce the transfer of heat, most commonly from the outside of a building to the inside in summer, and the reverse in winter. In addition, in hot water plumbing insulation is applied so that water in them cools down more slowly, to save energy required for heating air and also to ensure we get hot water whenever we open the faucet.. Similarly, insulation is required when we have cold air ducts in air conditioning.

Our commonly used heat and cold household appliances are insulated. For example, our refrigerator is able to maintain the cold with least amount of compressor running time thanks to insulation provided to its walls. Similarly our insulated oven retains heat for cooking.

How does Insulation reduce heat loss?

Air does not conduct much heat as long as it stays still. Most forms of insulation make use of this fact by creating a matrix of fibers or cells to provide a barrier to heat. Insulation materials always consist of air or some other gas trapped within bubbles or between fibers of a non conducting material. These are called mass type insulation materials. The best materials are those that are light in weight, resistant to air movement, water resistant, long-lasting, fireproof and cause no danger to health. Rockloyd and Supercera / Isoloyd Nil Flame are the major players in this field.

Another effective barrier to heat is a reflective surface or a cascade of reflective surfaces, which resist heat transfer by radiation because shiny surfaces are bad at both radiating and absorbing heat. Hence reflective foil layers can be used as insulation provided there is air film next to it. Resistance to heat flow offered by these foils is limited, however, and hence it cannot normally be used widely to provide good and effective insulation. Mass type insulation is more widely used.

What effect does temperature have?

The temperature difference; between one side of the insulation and the other; determines the rate at which heat passes through the insulation, or the overall construction incorporating it. Thus during warmest ambient temperature periods, our air conditioned space receives maximum heat and needs the air conditioner to run for longer periods. Any increase in the temperature difference between outside and inside increases the energy consumption.

How does insulation save the electricity bill?

It slows down the ingress of heat from the outside into the house so that less air conditioning Effort is needed to keep it as cool.. Unless the supply of energy is controlled, however, the house will simply get colder and colder. So, to achieve optimum energy saving, it is important for the cooling to be adjusted with a thermostat, along with well designed insulation in place. Overall, in a house, lowering of temperature by only 1 degree C, increases energy consumption by 15 to 20 percent and hence steals back much of the possible savings from insulation. Hence, in any discussion on energy consumption, we need to study how much insulation we must provide and also fix the temperature setting of the thermostat.

Can insulation improve comfort, without air conditioning?

Insulation cuts down the heat that would otherwise have flowed in and heated up our rooms. Cooking, electric lighting, and other appliances also account for additional heat loads in buildings. These are the reasons why we need air conditioning to remove all such heat and keep our interiors at comfortable levels.

When we insulate, the inner surfaces of rooms remain cooler, reducing the “radiator” effect to occupants and objects within. In such cases, those rooms will be comfortable even at a slightly warmer air temperature. With no insulation, even with air conditioning, the inner surfaces of the room tend to get very warm on a hot summer day. Even if the air is cooled down, radiation from a warm roof or wall surface could make us feel uncomfortable.

How can insulation cause some rooms to be warmer? Or How does insulation affect the speed of temperature change in different rooms?

This depends on where we place the insulation within the construction of a roof or a wall.

A building with solid brick or concrete walls stores a lot of heat and takes time to cool down. As long as the walls are hot, we will feel uncomfortable. Once the air conditioner stops, the air will obviously tend to get warmer. Whenever, we have insulation, this gain in heat is much slower.

It is a converse process in winter. Brick and concrete ‘retain’ the cold from low outside temperatures, and can stay cold for considerable lengths of time. We are all familiar with the problem of un-insulated concrete and brick housing. ‘Hot in summer – Cold in winter!’


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