4 advantages of using microporous insulation

4 advantages of using microporous insulation

In order to meet changing customer needs and rising demand for more choice, faster turnaround and better quality, many industries need to constantly look to innovative ways to increase efficiency. For many in manufacturing and similar industries, having effective high temperature thermal insulation for equipment and machinery is key to achieving this. A (relatively) recent innovation in high temperature insulation is microporous technology.

Comparing 5 types of high temperature industrial insulation materials

Comparing 5 types of high temperature industrial insulation materials

High temperature insulation is vital in many manufacturing applications such as continuous processing, where operating temperatures should be controlled to achieve maximum efficiency and consistency, and foundry and steel, where effective thermal insulation can help to extend the life of equipment and provide additional safety measures.

Asbestos Alternatives

Asbestos Alternatives

Fire protection is an inherent requirement in many industries, and it is essential for the safety of buildings. For most of the twentieth century, a major solution to fire protection and safety was asbestos. Asbestos was very much seen as a wonder mineral. Unfortunately, while this material can offer heat resistance up to 800°C, it is also potentially lethal to humans. But asbestos alternatives exist.

Consequently, the same industries, and more, which were once dependent on asbestos for fire protection and fire resistance are now having to find safe asbestos alternatives.

As specialists in fire protection, Elmelin provides specialist alternatives to asbestos, using products based on mica and microporous technology.

Why Asbestos is Lethal

HSE points out that asbestos kills around 5,000 workers each year in the UK. When materials containing asbestos are disturbed or damaged, they release fibres into the air. If inhaled, these fibres can cause diseases which can be fatal.

image of newspaper article talking about asbestos for blog by Elmelin

The effects are not immediate, as these diseases take time to develop. However, once they are diagnosed, it is usually too late to do anything about them.

The diseases that asbestos can cause are:

Mesothelioma – a cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and is almost always fatal

Asbestosis – a scarring condition of the lung, which causes shortness of breath and can be life-threatening

Asbestos-related lung cancer – the same as lung cancer caused by smoking

Pleural thickening – the lining of the lung swells and thickens, usually occurring following heavy asbestos exposure.

The problem is that asbestos is found in a great many places, including industrial, commercial and residential properties. It has been commonly used as an insulating material, has also been included in the manufacture of ceiling tiles, textured coatings, corrugated cement sheets, floor tiles and pipework. Asbestos is also sometimes present in brake pads, gaskets, electrical wire insulation and furnaces.

Asbestos is versatile, which has contributed to its widespread use. While its raw fibres are silk-like in their softness, manufacturing processes can also produce asbestos that is rock-solid.

Anyone working with asbestos should take the necessary precaution to protect themselves, but the best precaution of all is to find a safe asbestos alternative.

Asbestos Alternatives

Various new technologies have emerged in the wake of the growing awareness of the risks associated with asbestos. These include: polyurethane foams; flour fillers; thermoset plastic flour; cellulose fibres; and amorphous silica fabrics.

Asbestos itself had so much of a universal application that it has proved impossible to find a single substitute. However, some asbestos alternatives are more versatile than others.

image of asbestos for blog by elmelin on asbestos alternatives

One solution for high temperature insulation that, like asbestos, is mineral-based and has a wide variety of uses, is mica. Unlike asbestos, mica is safe.

Mica is a rock-forming silicate material and used with microporous technology, it provides a broad range of insulation and fire protection solutions across many different sectors and industries.

Like asbestos before it, mica can be used in various densities, from thin but durable sheets to cut shapes for tooling applications and manufactured components.

High Temperature Insulation

Microporous materials containing mica are effective in high temperature insulation for different industries, including foundry and steel, continuous processing and transport.

Here, there is an ongoing requirement for heat resistant materials for insulation and specialist functions such as heat shields. Mica and microporous insulation materials offer all the benefits of asbestos with none of the risks.

Fire safety in industry cuts across sectors, and requires solutions that are highly functional and adaptable.

In many instances, people will come into close contact with high temperature insulation materials as part of their daily working lives, so providing a safe but technically viable asbestos alternative is a fundamental requirement for safety in the workplace.

Fire Protection

Traditionally, asbestos has been widely used in construction as an essential component in ensuring building have the right degree of fire protection.

This has, in effect, turned asbestos into a hidden threat, with it being used in so many different construction materials.

image of fire protection for blog by Elmelin on asbestos alternatives

One aspect of fire safety in buildings is passive fire protection. This involves measures designed to contain a blaze and stop it from spreading throughout a structure.

Microporous technology now provides linings for fire doors and lift doors, to help with passive fire protection measures. These insulation boards are thin but hardwearing, and offer excellent resistance to fire and heat.

Fire safety is a continual requirement for a great many industries. These industries can no longer rely on asbestos as a solution. What they can do, however, is explore the versatility of mica, mica-based products and microporous technology as contemporary solutions to fire protection, insulation and fire safety.

Are You Looking for Asbestos Alternatives?

Elmelin specialises in providing manufactured solutions for  high temperature insulation, thermal control, heat resistance and fire protection. We provide both off-the-shelf and bespoke solutions, depending on your needs.

Please call us on +44 20 8520 2248, email sales@elmelin.com, or complete our online enquiry form. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Elmtherm Properties and the Benefits to Your Industry

Elmtherm Properties and the Benefits to Your Industry

Elmtherm is a range innovative high temperature insulation products, based on microporous technology. Designed to perform consistently at a peak level of excellence, Elmtherm has several applications across different industries, including foundry and steel, aerospace, petrochemical and fire protection.

This microporous material is durable with superior thermal insulation characteristics. It is used primarily as a lining material, protecting products, equipment and technology from heat incursion, and so ensuring their safety.

image of factory pipes for blog by Elmelin about the properties of Elmtherm

How Microporous Technology Works

The technology underpinning Elmtherm is separation technology. This involves small particles of silica, dispersed through an area, to the extent that they create small openings, or micro-pores. These micro-pores have tiny diameters of less than two nm, or nanometres.

When combined, these micro-pores create molecular sieve membrane. This sheet has a low density but an extremely effective porous structure.

What does this mean in practice?

Used in high temperature insulation, microporous material blocks conductive, convective and radiant forms of heat transfer.

Microporous technology restricts conductive heat transfer through minimising the contact between molecules, impeding their ability to transfer energy, from one molecule to another.

The structure of microporous sheets also creates pockets of trapped air which stop the free pathway of air, thereby containing convective heat transfer. This means there is limited or no heat transmitting through the microporous material.

For combatting heat transfer from radiation, microporous material has infrared opacifiers loaded into it to reduce the occurrence of radiant heat transfer. These added substances help make the material impervious to light-generated heat.

Elmtherm is highly energy efficient, helping reduce operating costs in the industries in which it is applied, while ensuring good temperature control through its excellent thermal stability.

Where there are issues to do with consistency and safety in performance, Elmtherm can help.

Microporous Product Grades

Elmelin produces four different grades of Elmtherm microporous material for high temperature insulation.

Each of these grades comes in a different ranges of thickness, which determine their heat transfer capabilities.

Image of Industrial plant for blog by Elmelin about the properties of Elmtherm

Elmtherm 1000 and 1100 are microporous in composition and can withstand maximum temperatures of 1,000°C and 1,100°C respectively. They come in thicknesses of between 3mm and 50mm.

Elmtherm 1400 and 1600 grades combine microporous materials with ceramics to form effective heat shields, designed to withstand temperatures of up to 1,400°C and 1,600°C respectively. Thickness for these grades depends on their specific application.

Applying Elmtherm Across Industries

High temperature insulation is an essential requirement across different industries and sectors, but microporous technology is proving to be a widely applicable, adaptable and highly effective solution.

The low thickness but high strength of Elmtherm make it well-suited for applications where safety, efficiency and energy saving are all key requirements.

Low weight combined with high compression strength means microporous solutions can both protect equipment and other materials while ensuring peak performance.

Elmtherm for Foundries

Elmtherm lines ladles in foundries, ensuring that they can safely hold molten metal at intense temperatures. This type of lining increases the capacity of ladles by 10% while having a positive impact on energy conservation, offering improvements in this area of around 50%.

For furnaces, Elmtherm helps with even heat distribution, and also protects against heat loss, to the tune of 30%. At the same time, because of its thinness, it is a more efficient insulator than other, alternative board materials.

Image of foundary for blog by Elmelin about the properties of Elmtherm

In aluminium launder systems, Elmtherm contributes to the speed and efficiency of the casting process, where speedy transfers between furnaces are critically important. Elmtherm optimises the movement of molten aluminium between smelting and casting processes, saving on heat and time.

Elmtherm is also used to line tundishes, to assist in continuous casting operations; and is also found in kilns and rotary kilns.

Aerospace Applications for Elmtherm

Microporous insulation is an industry standard for aircraft, when it comes to ensuring the lowest possible thermal conductivity and keeping things as lightweight as possible.

Elmtherm provides essential thermal protection for aircraft auxiliary power units and flight data recorders. It also provides heat shield material for thrust reversers, and flexible insulation inside aircraft engines.

In the form of panels, it can also insulate galley ovens on aircraft, as well as providing wings with fire protection.

Protecting Process Piping

For pipeline materials in the petrochemical and other industries, protection against extreme heat and fire is vital, as process piping is inevitably going to involve highly inflammable materials.

Because it is lightweight and flexible, but also very strong, Elmtherm is an ideal lining solution for process pipework. It is used in power plants, the petrochemical and cement and glass industries.

Microporous Fire Protection

With fire and elevator doors playing essential, strategic roles in passive fire resistance, ensuring they are as fire-proof as possible is essential.

Elmtherm has proved ideal for this form of insulation, being lightweight but highly fire-resistant, and easily adaptable to a range of situations and locations.

image of firefighters fighting a blaze for blog by Elmelin about the properties of Elmtherm

These microporous insulation boards are a safe, modern alternative to asbestos, opening up new possibilities for high performance, high temperature insulation in buildings management and safety.

What Insulation Solutions are You Looking For?

Elmelin’s Elmtherm range of microporous high temperature insulation solutions is highly adaptable across a very broad spectrum of industries and sectors. We have only touched on a few key examples here.

Discover more about Elmtherm and how it could benefit your business and your industry by calling us on +44 20 8520 2248.  Alternatively, please email sales@elmelin.com, or complete our online enquiry form. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.