As you’re no doubt aware – insulation can be made of a whole host of other materials – fibreglass, cellulose, mineral wool. That being said, mica has very unique properties that make it an excellent choice as a basis for insulation in a range of industrial applications.
Here we’re going to look at a particular form of mica – muscovite mica – its properties and how it’s used by the industry and by Elmelin to make a variety of processes safer and more efficient. …
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Like asbestos before it,
mica can be used in various densities, from thin but durable sheets to cut shapes for tooling applications and
High Temperature Insulation
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
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.
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
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.
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
As a supremely versatile material, mica comes in a variety of forms, suitable for different applications, across a diverse range of industries. Elmelin’s range of mica products reflects this versatility. Mica tube is one such product, and in fact mica tubes themselves have many different uses and come in various shapes and grades.
Mica is a naturally
occurring mineral and there are 37 varieties. However, the two we work with are
phlogopite, or green, and muscovite, or white, mica.
These two forms of mica
come in sheet form, in
two grades, MFSSP (phlogopite) and MFSSM (muscovite). Each of these two forms
of mica has qualities that make it suitable for different applications, used by
a broad range of industries.
Our phlogopite and
muscovite mica sheets are available in flexible or rigid grades, depending on
their required use.
Induction furnaces provide
an energy efficient solution to processing for the foundry and steel
industry. The induction heating of metal involves applying heat to a coil of
copper wire that surrounds a non-conductive crucible, containing the material
to be melted down.
An alternating current
runs through the copper wire coil, which creates a rapidly reversing magnetic
field that can penetrate the metal. This penetration then induces circular
electric currents inside the metal, eventually breaking down its resistance.
The advantage of the
induction process for heating metal is that it avoids contamination of the
material through use of any other external heat source, such as burning fuel.
However, due to the intense heat involved, the crucible lining must be able to withstand high temperatures, to maintain consistency and productivity. This is where the slip plane characteristics of mica roll as a furnace lining are so critical to foundry processes.
What are the questions that drive business success? For many, innovation will the way that they can differentiate themselves and gain a competitive edge. To do this, they must be able to harness the potential of effective research and development, or R&D.
Momentum is building in the UK for the take-up of electric cars. Earlier in 2018, the Committee on Climate Change told ministers that three-fifths of all new cars must be electric by 2030, to meet greenhouse gas targets. More recently, sales in electric vehicles have surged in reaction to rising fuel prices, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Mica is a naturally occurring mineral with inherent insulation properties that make it ideally suited to a broad range of industrial and commercial applications. As a product, mica cuts across sectors, supporting specialised industries, such as foundry and steel, but also in our homes and in everyday use in consumer appliances.
Mica is versatile but also, to an extent, hidden. It is often the case that people are unaware of it, or of its properties. Here, then, we answer some commonly asked questions about mica.
What is high temperature insulation? High temperature insulation is an insulating substance that protects from extremely high temperatures and is used in manufacturing, cars, electrical appliances, and tooling, amongst other things.
Many different industries rely on high temperature insulation to carry out essential processes, manufacture products and components, and ensure optimum, economic performance.
Insulation is vital for preventing the transfer of heat. By doing this, it reduces the amount of energy that is needed to raise temperatures, and it protects that are adjacent to the heat source from damage.