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Potential of Technical Insulation

The Plant's New Clothes – Savings by the Use of Suitable Insulation

| Editor: Wolfgang Ernhofer

As a consequence, there was no further use for the existing substructures and coverings. To obtain a better estimate of the potential savings for other pipes, the aim is however to replace the insulation with the same insulation thickness as already fitted. With existing pipework in particular, there is often too little space available to use a thicker layer of insulation. Only an optimized insulation material can achieve savings in cases when the thickness remains the same. This then also provides an opportunity to re-use the existing coverings for the old pipes.

With the help of thermal calculation software TechCalc, potential savings of up to 40 % were identified. Dow took photographs and measurements of the test section and confirmed the previous calculations conclusively which estimated savings in operating costs for the steam and condensate pipework of more than 40 %.

"The biggest technical challenge with existing plants is often the available space," says Geiger, who knows the project well. The wired mineral wool mats from the Ultimate line — a specialty insulation product by Isover — impressed the American chemical company because it offers energy-efficiency and economy despite the higher initial cost. As a result, Dow decided to designate this as standard for all subsequent modernizations to its pipework systems and tanks.

Calculation Tools and Challenges

Apart from space problems, there are other challenges that need to be overcome. Ortlieb mentions a certain amount of skepticism toward new insulation materials: "Operating companies' specifications are often out-of-date, which makes it difficult for their representatives to pursue new directions." Another factor which should not be overlooked is how modern insulation systems can affect the energy balances in processes to such an extent that the processes might need to be re-programmed.

A wide range of calculation tools are available to provide an initial impression of how much energy can be saved. These include Techcalc from Isover and the online tool Quickcheck, which is supported by the German construction industry association. Rockassist, the software developed by Rockwool Technical Insulation, is available for mobile terminals: "This allows the engineer to calculate the energy-saving effects of different insulation thicknesses on site," explains Stephan Reichinger, Technical Manager at Rockwool.

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