Insulation Covers Key to Sustainability in Recycling Facilities
Plastics renewal facilities are a growing trend in U.S. new construction as energy companies redirect extensive amounts of plastic waste for conversion to diesel fuel, blend stocks, and wax. Some of the most critical equipment at these innovative recycling facilities are the hundreds of reactors, all of which operate outdoors and at very high temperatures (850°F to 1000°F +) throughout all four seasons.
To maintain temperatures and efficiently operate, these facilities must insulate the reactors, but also be able to access the equipment regularly, which is a limitation of conventional insulation. Fit Tight Covers (FTC) is meeting the needs of customers in this industry by designing and fabricating fully custom, removable, and reusable insulation systems for the reactor heads. To ensure proper fit, FTC field representatives visit facilities to measure equipment, analyze temperature, and examine the unique environmental constraints. Measurements and notes are then brought back to headquarters in Evansville, Indiana. The fabrication process begins with the FTC CAD design team and ends with a quality check prior to shipment.
“A well-fitted cover is critical for temperature control and energy conservation, especially in high-temp industrial applications,” emphasizes Calvin Brasel, General Manager at Fit Tight Covers. “With Certified Energy Appraisals, we have documented the effectiveness of custom FTC covers, as well as, the high levels of energy loss in unfitted generic covers.” By custom-engineering every cover and using time-tested materials, FTC’s insulation covers meet and exceed specifications across the energy sector and ensure effectiveness and reliability of essential processing equipment.
- Cold face fabric is a Teflon impregnated fiberglass fabric which FTC reinforced with stainless steel mesh.
- Two different types of insulation were used due to different operant temperature zones on the reactors. For the zones near the burner, 2” Insulfrax was used due to temperatures above 1000°F. For the cooler zones that only saw temps in the 850°F range, 2 layers of 1” temp-mat we’re best.
- The hot face fabric utilized was an 18 oz. satin weave silica fabric. This was reinforced with Inconel mesh in the burner regions and stainless-steel mesh in the other areas.
The primary concern was durability and longevity for the reactor head insulation. After extensive testing on reactor #1 was complete the customer was confident FTC had found the solution and placed the order for the remaining reactors. The reactor heads and trim comprised at this one location required 2100 hours of production in the Fit Tight Covers shop.
Fit Tight Covers recently helped one of their pharmaceutical customers realize potential savings with a Certified Insulation Energy Appraisal. This specialty service, offered by FTC, differs from an energy audit, which only reports on the current state of mechanical systems and equipment. An energy appraisal goes much further and demonstrates how insulation upgrades reduce operating expenses through energy savings.
The insulation upgrade recommendations at AstraZeneca came in the form of both conventional insulation and removable insulation. However, the majority of improvement opportunities were identified in areas where removable insulation was ideal. At large pharmaceutical plants there are components of a mechanical system necessary to access for routine maintenance and calibration: valves, pumps, filters, flow meters, strainers, heat exchangers, etc. Often times maintenance personnel will take off conventional (or permanent) insulation in these areas to conduct their business and then leave equipment uninsulated when finished. These gaps in the insulation system are a huge opportunity to reduce energy usage and enable systems to operate more efficiently, therefore reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
With a removable insulation cover maintenance personnel are inclined to re-seal the insulation system because you can remove and reuse the insulation pad very easily and in a timely manner. Mechanical engineers design systems to be completely insulated and any exposed piping or equipment at a plant is an opportunity to save money and reduce carbon emissions.
Fit Tight Covers has 5 certified energy appraisers on staff. They are trained through a reputable third-party organization – NIA (National Insulation Association). The appraisal includes an onsite walk-through, personnel interviews, data collection, BTu loss calculations, thermal imaging, and a report detailing current state, proposed insulation upgrades, and payback period with potential energy savings.
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Save Energy by Insulating Pipe Components on Steam and Hot Water Distribution Systems.
Pipe components are often un-insulated for two reasons:
- They have convoluted shapes, which are more expensive to insulate, and
- They require periodic maintenance that involves removing existing insulation for access.
To insulate difficult shapes, one option is for the insulation contractor to craft insulation pieces using preformed pipe insulation and then install these over, for example, a gate valve.
A second option is to use R/R insulation blankets. These usually are custom made and require the fabricator to send someone to the site to measure the surfaces, then design the R/R blankets, fabricate the blankets in a shop, bring the blankets to the job site, and install the blankets. These blankets require a certain amount of skill and training to design, fabricate, and install correctly. When done well, and in such a way that all the bare surfaces are insulated, this option results in insulation that can be removed for maintenance or inspection and then reinstalled fairly quickly. The fabrication of these blankets can be done following either a project-specific specification, prepared by the architect or engineer, or following the indoor requirements section of industry standard ASTM C1695-10, Standard Specification for Fabrication of Flexible Removable and Reusable Blanket Insulation for Hot Service.
Originally Published in: Insulation Outlook