Insulation: Not only for buildings
Many of us only hear about insulation as it pertains to building envelopes. The truth is that insulation can provide energy savings in many different applications – notably industrial processes, the focus of this brief.
A temperature difference makes a difference
Insulation reduces heat loss due to a temperature difference between two objects or spaces. The larger the difference in temperature, the greater the effect of adding insulation. This is especially important for industrial processes where products need high temperatures for sanitation, material property changes, or other purposes. If the components associated with these processes are not properly insulated, there could be a great deal of energy loss, or gain.
Here are a few examples of high temperature processes that we have seen in the field where insulation provided energy savings.
Paint lines — many paint lines have curing stations that can reach upwards of 400 degrees. With such a significant difference between the temperature inside the booth and the rest of an industrial facility, a curing station that is not properly insulated can bleed a lot of energy. This can even have an adverse affect on the cooling system during the summer months. It is recommended that a customer have at least 6 inches of insulation on these booths.
Condensate return — Some processes, such as roller drum dryers, use steam for heating. The steam condenses and returns to the heating source. It is important to insulate the condensate return piping as the temperature of the condensate can still be 200 or more degrees. Insulation will not only reduce the heat lost to the environment, but will also reduce the energy needed to convert the condensate back to steam.
Injection molding barrel heaters — The barrels on injection molders are heated to help move and liquidize resin pellets. Insulation can help reduce the heat needed on the barrel. However, it is important in this application to not over-insulate the barrel as it can overheat, burning the plastic and hurting the product quality.
Caustic dipping/coating process — One unique application for insulation is used in a caustic dipping/coating process. Ping pong ball sized pieces of insulation are used on top of a heated coating. When a piece is dipped into the coating, the insulated balls flow out of the way. They return when the piece is removed. In this way, the balls provide insulation between the surface of the hot liquid and the rest of an industrial facility.
Insulation can pay off
There are many examples of industrial insulation that can help save energy. It is important to consider insulation for any process where a large temperature difference with the outside environment exists. Remember, insulation isn’t just for your house, it can work wonders on your industrial process too.