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, 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, or complete our online enquiry form. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Heat Resistant Gaskets and Washers: Mica Components

Heat Resistant Gaskets and Washers: Mica Components

Mica components are one of the many ways in which we can harness mica’s natural heat resistant and dielectric properties to serve a whole range of industries. Mica has a natural, structural stability, making it an ideal manufacturing solution when it comes to producing heat resistant gaskets and washers, along with other vital components.

Protecting Furnace Coils with Elmesh and Vapourshield

Protecting Furnace Coils with Elmesh and Vapourshield

In coreless induction furnaces, it is vital that the coil responsible for the melting process can work as effectively and efficiently as possible, with a minimum risk of disruption. Protecting furnace coils is essential.

Depending on the type of metals they are melting, coreless induction furnaces can be at risk from materials penetrating the layer of grout surrounding the coil and damaging the coil itself.

Elmelin has developed furnace safety systems, protecting furnace coils by giving an early warning where there is a risk of damage to the coil grout. These products are laminates that line the furnace, combining mica with innovative technology.

These furnace systems are Elmesh and Vapourshield.

Achieving Thermal Consistency in Coreless Induction Furnaces

Achieving Thermal Consistency in Coreless Induction Furnaces

In the foundry and steel industry, production has been based on the principle of induction since the early years of the 20th century. Allen Colby patented the first induction furnace in 1900, and the induction heating of metal has spread since then, with most modern furnaces now using this electrical process.

The coreless induction furnace uses a crucible, into which metal is placed. A coil surrounds the crucible, which generates the electricity required to melt the metal in it.

For modern foundries using coreless induction furnaces to work efficiently, they must keep thermal consistency throughout this process. Maintaining the optimum temperature for the task will prevents the loss of valuable alloying elements, helping to achieve uncontaminated, well-mixed results every time.

Elmelin is a specialist manufacturer of products designed to support coreless induction furnaces in achieving this thermal consistency.

Thermal Management in Fire Safety

Thermal Management in Fire Safety

Fire safety, thermal management and high temperature insulation are all connected, and mica, as both solution and product, has a key role to play across industries where these things are a major concern.


Fire protection is a key requirement for the automotive and aerospace industries, but also is an essential facet in various continuous processes, involved in the petrochemical and other industries.


Fire safety touches the lives of pretty much everyone; whether it’s when they are using everyday consumer appliances, or when they are at work, where fire protection is part of the infrastructure of their surroundings.


What does mica contribute to fire safety, and why is it such an important material?


Mica’s Fire Safety Qualities


high temperature for fire protection, image of a fire fighter in front of a fire.

Mica’s natural mineral properties mean that it is an excellent insulator while being extremely durable and adaptable. Whether in pure form, or combined with other materials, including microporous insulation, mica offers a range of solutions across different industries when it comes to fire protection and ensuring fire safety.


Microporous technology is effective in blocking three types of heat transfer: conduction, convection and radiation.


Conduction involves heat flux through solid materials; convection is where heat flows through gases and liquids; and radiation is where heat travels through electromagnetic waves.


Addressing these types of heat transfer means high temperature solutions can offer essential fire protection for different products and functions, including electrical, industrial and transport.


Making Consumer Appliances Safe


Faulty consumer appliances can be the cause of household fires, and is especially prone to causing injury and damage, because they are heat-generating.

hair being dried with a hairdryer insulated with mica

Items such as hairdryers function through heating up and cooling down quickly, but to do this safely they must have the right degree of high temperature insulation.


The nichrome element in hairdryers is wound around an insulating board, which must be thermally resistant and provide a high level of protection from the risk of fire.

Mica is an ideal solution, as, in rigid form, it can be cut into custom shapes. Its natural heat resistance, combined with strong dielectric properties, make mica the perfect fire safety material for consumer appliances.


Heat Shields in Transportation


Fire safety is a critical issue in various forms of transportation, including automotive, aerospace and specialist, military transport.


Typically, internal combustion engines will give off large amounts of heat, which can damage components and, in certain conditions, lead to outbreaks of fire.


Similarly, the intense temperatures from jet engines in reverse thrust mode mean that fire is an inherent risk in modern air-flight.


Mica is the basis for heat shields in both aeroplanes and vehicles, helping to cool engine vents and provide thermal management for exhausts.


Even as electric vehicles become more prominent, mica will continue to play an essential fire safety and protective role, helping to insulate sophisticated electrical components.


Fire Safety in Industry


In the petrochemical processing industry, hazardous environments come with the job, and much of the industry’s continuous processes involve working in dangerously high temperatures with extremely combustible materials.


Thermal control combined with fire safety considerations are integral to safe, productive working.


Microporous insulation of pipes and tubes helps extend their lifespan, while ensuring thermal management. These specialist linings are extremely hardwearing and heat resistant, but are also lightweight and flexible.


Also, across various sectors, effective insulation is required for electric cables, to ensure their resistance to fire and to mechanical shock. In many industries, electrical equipment has a vital, strategic importance, and where fire does occur, it is important that it can continue to function as long and as effectively as possible.

picture of flames outside closed lift doors to illustrate Elmelin's fire control solutions

This sort of cabling carries power supplies in hospitals, airports, power stations and other key locations.

Mica insulating tape offers the protection these cables require for fire safety.


Fire Safety Solutions for Buildings


Reliable, reassuring fire safety for buildings involves passive fire protection, which is designed to contain and prevent the spread of fire.


This works as another protective measure alongside active fire prevention elements such as sprinklers, extinguishers and other suppressants, and fire alarms.


Good passive fire protection means having fire resistant floors and doors. Fire doors help to compartmentalise any fire outbreaks, creating sealed units within a building, which then increase people’ chances of making a safe evacuation.


Microporous materials provide fire resistant linings to fire doors, in the form of lightweight and thin insulation boards. The same applies to lift doors, which should also be fire resistant to prevent the spread of a fire through a building’s lift shafts.


A Safe, Mineral Alternative


Asbestos was once seen as the wonder miracle for fire safety applications, until it was exposed as a serious health risk.


Like asbestos, mica is a silicate material, formed in rock, but, unlike asbestos, mica is safe. For anyone looking for a safe alternative to asbestos, which will combine strength with heat resistance performance, mica is the answer.


It is more than an asbestos substitute, however. Used with other materials, or in pure form, mica is extremely versatile, and its combined qualities of electrical resistance and high temperature insulation make it the right choice across a diverse spread of industries and sectors.


Have You Got the Right Fire Safety?


You might be working with hazardous materials, manufacturing electrical goods, or working in an office environment. Fire safety will need to be a basic part of your working life regardless.


At Elmelin, we work with different businesses and organisations drawn from a broad spectrum of disciplines and sectors. What provide is peace of mind through expert fire safety, thermal management and high temperature insulation solutions.


For more information, please call us on +44 20 8520 2248, or email You can also complete our online enquiry form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.