This article was written by Will Jones, an insulation expert at Thermaxx Jackets.
A question that we are commonly asked is, “How long will these insulation jackets last?” That is a good question with several answers! Materials play a huge part in the life cycle of an insulation jacket. Choosing the correct hot and cold side cover is key in getting the optimal lifespan of an insulation jacket. The first thing we need to look at is the location: is it in a chemical plant, power plant, high acidity area, or an isolated area in the middle of nowhere?
Below is pictured a 6 inch outdoor steam gate valve, before and after being insulated by Thermaxx Jackets:
If the environment is harsh, we need to determine which cold side cover will offer the best resiliency. Silicone and Teflon® are two coverings which offer the best defense against acidic, corrosive, hot or any atmosphere that is harmful to most types of exterior coverings. It is very important that the corrosive entities be identified so that a chemical compatibility chart can be consulted to narrow down the best covering.
The removable insulation jacket pictured below was installed on a truck, which runs in summer and winter, in 2009. It has endured rain, snow, and hail. It has been exposed to temperatures below -30°F and above 105°F. Carefully choosing the right materials and methods used in manufacturing has proven results seen here.
The method that is used to hold the jacket together is another key consideration. Many types of threads are used: Teflon coated fiberglass thread, coated Nomex® thread, and Kevlar® thread. Break strength is a good indicator of the quality of the thread. Kevlar has a 35lb. break strength while the other threads usually have around an 8 to 11 lb. break strength. Kevlar is subject to UV rays and does suffer some degradation in strength.
Research has shown that the most Kevlar will degrade is 50%, and those are only the parts that see continual sunshine. The degradation takes place over time, however when fully degraded we still have a product that has a higher break strength than the other threads. Additionally, Sunlight and UV rays degrade most threads to a point, therefore we feel starting with the best and strongest gives the product life span that Thermaxx Jackets desires.
The next consideration is the insulation core. It is important to note that over time, when repairs being made to the system, tools that could compromise the insulation jacket cover are used. Unfortunately, sometimes these tools do cause damage to the outer cover. The cut or slit in the cover can cause serious problems depending upon what insulation is used. Typically the thinking in the past was to use type E needled fiberglass.
Fiberglass quickly absorbs water! In the image below, moisture entered through the insulation pins used. Now the inside of the insulation jacket is a wet, soggy mess and the thermal properties of the insulation are non-existent. Even after the insulation has dried out the optimal thermal properties are severely degraded, often to the point of being useless. Poor material choices led to an early demise of this insulation jacket, and it was replaced with a Thermaxx Jacket. Not to mention the damage done to the component from CUI (corrosion under insulation) as pictured in the second image.
Aerogel insulations have solved the problem of insulation being ruined by getting wet. Aerogel insulation is the most thermally efficient solid material available and it is hydrophobic. Aerogel insulation will not absorb liquid water, yet, the insulation breathes to help prevent CUI (corrosion under insulation) as pictured below.
In summary, careful consideration must be taken when designing a removable insulation jacket that will last for years and years of service in harsh, outdoor conditions. Thermaxx Jackets believes in this so strongly that we guarantee our removable insulation jackets for a minimum of five years. All of our jackets will last for many, many years in an outdoor environment if the materials are carefully chosen. For more information on our products, contact us!