Cold insulation prevents the disadvantages caused by moisture in industry

When dealing with cold temperatures, the starting points for insulation are different from those for hot temperatures. The main goal is to minimize the effects of condensing moisture – for example, corrosion, fracture breakage and increase in the heat of the object to be insulated. This also saves money.

What is cold insulation?

Experts talk about cold insulation when the average temperature of the object to be insulated is lower than the temperature of the air around it. Thus, the temperature of the cold insulation can be anything between an absolute zero point, -273 ℃, and the ambient temperature.

The main function of all insulation systems is to reduce heat flow rates. When thermal insulation prevents heat flow from the object to be insulated to the surrounding air, cold insulation seeks to reduce the heat flow from the surrounding air to the object.

In addition to heat insulation, cold insulation is also needed in industrial applications. There are lots of equipment in industry and building technology that operates at temperatures below ambient temperature.

Inadequate cold insulation causes a wide range of damage

Keeping the temperature low requires a lot of energy, and the more this energy is wasted due to insufficient insulation, the more unnecessary energy costs are incurred. However, the effects of a lack of cold insulation are not limited to energy, but also have many other unpleasant consequences.

The performance of the process may depend entirely on how well the temperature of the substance in the tube or apparatus is maintained at a sufficiently cold temperature. For example, in gas transfer processes in the liquid state, there is a risk that if the cold insulation fails, the liquid will gasify in the wrong place due to the rise in temperature.

Cold insulation is especially needed to prevent moisture from condensing on the surfaces. Air always contains moisture, and when it comes in contact with surfaces that are colder than itself, it condenses. Moisture on the surface of an uninsulated or poorly insulated body causes the following:

  • Energy losses multiply: Water conducts heat 20 times more efficiently than air. If the water freezes, the situation will get worse, as ice will conduct heat 100 times better than air.
  • Moisture can damage insulation materials.
  • Pipes, claddings and other metal parts are prone to rust when wet.
  • The weight of the moisture strains the structures, so they need to be renewed earlier.
  • When frozen, the pipes crack and the valves, motors and pumps break. At worst, this can lead to serious accidents.
  • There will be interference with the electronic systems and the control panels will not work.
  • Due to non-functioning systems, production will be interrupted.

After all, these problems are reflected in additional costs that could have been avoided with proper isolation.

Special features of cold insulation

Since condensing moisture is the cause of many unpleasant consequences in the case of an uninsulated or poorly insulated part, the starting point for designing a cold insulation system must be, above all, the minimization of moisture on the surface to be insulated.

Although the pursuit of energy efficiency is not the number one priority in the design of a cold insulation system, as in thermal insulation, it does not mean that there is also the potential for energy savings in cold applications. Yes, these benefits are achieved when moisture is isolated from surfaces.

It is also important to remember that the service life of cold insulation is limited. The insulation of cold systems is subjected to heavy stress and is sensitive to damage, so they must be inspected and serviced regularly. In this way, energy losses can be kept low and industrial processes run smoothly.

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