Industrial Insulation. The concept of industrial insulation is not new. However, it was not until the past decade or so that we saw manufacturers move away from using fiberglass-based insulation in their product. In fact, worker safety (5) has long been a concern for those in the insulation industry.
The thermal performance of insulated surfaces is typically evaluated on a one-storey/one-wall application. On multi-story or multi-floor applications, thermal performance is usually evaluated on a 3-storey building. Fiberglass based insulation coatings have difficulty with increasing the external surface temperature of the building. As a result, fiberglass based coatings must be treated frequently and properly. They also do not perform well under the high pressure conditions found in the concrete construction process. To make matters worse, they are expensive and difficult to install.
Other types of insulation coating perform quite poorly when the applied surface temperatures rise above their vapor temperatures. These coatings fail to perform adequately when the ambient air temperatures are cold or below the dew point. Insulation coatings provide superior resistance to thermal corrosion of plastics and polyethylene. If properly applied and maintained, the resistance to corrosion is nearly equal to that of pure silica. Insulation coatings also improve the energy efficiency of cooling and heating systems.
Materials Selection When choosing the right substrate material, it is important to consider personnel protection corrosion of the installation area. Silicone oil is the most common lubricant used in heat-reflective coatings. Most manufacturers prefer to use synthetic oils with reduced surface activity. Nevertheless, these lubricants are corrosive and should not be used where personnel are present or if the work site has access to the outside atmosphere.
Another key factor in the selection of a substrate is substrate hardness. As the name implies, thermal barrier coatings form a physical barrier between two materials that are subject to heat. The term ‘thermal barrier coatings’ is often used interchangeably with ‘insulation coatings’. The reason for this is that both are designed to improve energy efficiency. They both prevent and reduce heat transfer. And, because both provide excellent resistance to moisture and physical damage, both are very useful.
Insulation layer thickness is another key factor in the selection of an appropriate insulating coating. Like thermal barrier coatings, insulating coatings must be highly reflective so that heat is reflected away from the surrounding structure. Insulation coatings should ideally be thin enough to allow diffused heat to pass through the coating and dissipate as it passes through the material.
Another consideration when selecting an appropriate thermal barrier or insulation coating is surface texture. As the name suggests, dry film thicknesses are film-like, applied over a structural surface. As its name implies, these are usually applied over a structure’s interior. Wet film coatings are easier to apply and less messy; however, they tend to flake and peel over time. Most wet film insulation coatings have high levels of R-value (thermal resistance) to help improve energy efficiency.
Spray-applied coating systems have several advantages over dry-applied systems. Spray-applied systems can use pre-fabricated or pre-manufactured components. These systems offer faster setup times and greater flexibility. Moreover, spray-applied systems offer better energy efficiencies than mils dry film thicknesses.
Mils dry film thicknesses are applied to a structure and cured using heat. These coatings offer very good R-values. However, over time these coatings will begin to peel and flake. If not treated effectively, the result will be surface damage and increased building maintenance expenses. Installing an effective anti-corrosion or thermal insulation paint system can prevent such damage from occurring.
Some builders and property owners prefer to apply additional protection to their structures using non-traditional methods. One of these methods is the application of a thin anti-corrosion layer over the conventional insulation. This type of coating is more commonly referred to as cookers. Cookers protect against electrical current and other forms of wear and tear that occurs with time and use.
The most common materials used in cooking coils are aluminum, copper and stainless steel. Typically, a spray applied insulation coating is applied to the walls and roof before the cookers are installed. Cookers should always be installed properly and have all connections made according to local code. With proper installation, a spray applied insulation coating will provide superior protection to your structure.