Case Study: Removable Insulation at UVM

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How the University of Vermont Saved 6,500 MMBTUs per year with Removable Blanket Insulation

UVM mechanical room with insulation jackets

UVM University Heights mechanical room with insulation jackets on gate valve bonnets (jacket material is PTFE-coated fiberglass with 15mm Pyrogel® insulation)

Project Background

In the spring of 2012, the University of Vermont (UVM) was referred by its distribution partner and steam specialist (Power & Process, Inc.) to insulation specialists Thermaxx LLC to help reduce energy inefficiencies by installing removable, re-usable insulation jackets on their steam equipment.

The project initially began in The Simpson Hall mechanical room, which had some common opportunities for improvement in regards to insulation best practices. Straight pipes had been insulated during construction in the 1950s, but many pieces of insulation had since been removed and damaged as a result of regular maintenance activities. Valves, steam trap stations, and other components that require routine inspection or maintenance were uninsulated. Ambient temperatures in the room approached 100°F, and UVM was concerned not only with heat loss and energy inefficiency but also with the uncomfortable work environment.

Initial Heat Loss Analysis

Thermaxx worked with the UVM maintenance department to prepare a scope of work and heat loss analysis for missing pipe insulation and system components.

The heat loss analysis was approached using the following steps:

  1. Pressure readings were done on steam components, and components were separated by steam pressure into high, medium, and low categories.
  2. Infrared analyzers were used to confirm pressure readings and maintenance historical knowledge. Temperatures were calculated from this data.
  3. Components were labeled using high temperature markers.
  4. Information was entered into a database for heat loss calculations.
  5. A proprietary database was used to verify surface area of components in square feet.
  6. 3E Plus® software was used to calculate the current BTU heat loss per square foot per hour as well as the projected BTU loss per square foot per hour with insulation upgrades.
  7. Projected BTU savings were then calculated.

Moving Forward

The Energy Management team at UVM, headed by Richard Wolbach, examined the energy savings data on the mechanical room and decided to expand the project. UVM worked closely with the insulation specialists to conduct audits in 5 other locations, including their buried steam distribution system. Once audits were complete, the University ordered the manufacture and installation of removable insulation jackets on steam components including but not limited to gate valves, globe valves, steam traps, condensate pumps, butterfly valves, heat exchangers, and pressure reducing valves. Work was performed in the spring and fall of 2012.

Project Impact

Safety: The project improved safety by limiting exposed hot surfaces and by reducing ambient temperatures in the work environment to more comfortable levels.

Energy: Annual energy savings are projected to be approximately 6,500 MMBTU’s per year.

Costs: Cost reduction from energy reduction is projected to be approximately $55,000. The projected payback period (time required for UVM recover net costs of project) on energy reduction savings alone is approximately 24months.

In addition, UVM received incentives, for this project, from energy provider Vermont Gas Systems based on MCF/year natural gas savings amounting to $43,000.

For more information on this project, please contact:

Suzanne Rowe
Regional Sales Manager
Thermaxx LLC
16 Hamilton Street
West Haven CT 06516
203 931 2122
Suzanne@thermaxxjackets.com

Richard Wolbach, BOC & CEM
Energy Management & Utility Engineer
The University of Vermont
284 East Avenue, Room 212
Burlington, VT 05405-0501