Article

Ceramic Fiber: High Temperature Insulation Solution

Ceramic fiber has ideal characteristics for thermal applications within industries that handle high temperatures. Learn more in the following article.

By Christian Tavira
Application Engineering & Technical Support Manager - NUTEC

4/12/2023

4 Minutes

wall with material of thermal insulation of ceramic fiber
4/12/2023

4 Minutes

Ceramic fiber is essential in various industries involving high-temperature operations. It offers superior thermal resistance for protecting structures, equipment, and machinery, from steel and glass production to airplane and space vehicle manufacture.

In this article, we will detail the characteristics of the ceramic insulating fiber and some of its main attributes and use classification dependent on chemical composition and shape.

What is high temperature ceramic fiber?

Ceramic fibers are synthetic materials comprising small filaments made from high-purity aluminosilicate minerals.

Thanks to their particular properties and composition, ceramic fiber products contribute to preventing and reducing heat losses, in addition to protecting, providing insulation, and optimizing the energy performance of equipment, structures, and process machinery.

5 main characteristics of ceramic fiber

Ceramic fiber is an ideal insulator in high temperature environments due to its characteristics, such as:

  1. Low density. Due to its composition, ceramic fiber has a lower density than other materials, giving it an advantage in its lightness and flexibility. This makes it easy to install and transport.
  2. Low heat storage. It cools down more quickly, making it ideal when immediate access and handling are required. It has proven excellent for both intermittent and continuous operation applications.
  3. Low heat loss. It can reduce heat transfer and provide good thermal protection.
  4. Resistance to thermal shock. It withstands sudden changes in temperature without suffering damage.
  5. Low thermal conductivity. This reduces heat transfer and provides efficient heat shielding.

Classification of high temperature insulation fibers

High Temperature Insulating Wools are used in applications that can exceed 1112°F (600°C). Depending on your application, they come in various product formulations and chemistries/temperatures. Three main categories are easily available on the market.

Chemical composition/Temperature classification

  • Refractory Ceramic Fiber. One of our product lines is MaxWool 2300, which is composed of a mixture of alumina and silica. This material can be used for temperatures up to 2300°F (1260°C). Another product line is our MaxWool 2600, composed of a mixture of alumina, silica, and zirconia. This material can be used for temperatures up to 2600°F (1425°C).
  • Low Biopersistent fiber. Our LBP product line is SuperMag 2200. It comprises low biopersistence fibers (also known as biosoluble fibers). They contain a chemical composition of calcium, silica, and magnesium. This product is used at temperatures up to 2200°F (1200°C).
  • Polycrystalline fiber wool. Here we find MaxWool 3000. This product is made from fibers that contain a polycrystalline mullite chemical composition, which allows for high tensile strength, durability, and low shrinkage at high temperatures.
maxwool blanket NUTEC

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Presentation/Product classification

High temperature fibers appear like cotton wool when manufactured. These fibers can be shaped into different products depending on the needs and the type of application. The most common forms are:

  • Blankets. Fibers are converted into a blanket through a weaving process. They're used to reduce energy consumption, improve the performance of thermal processes, and increase fire safety in different industrial applications.
  • Bulk. Fibers collected after the fiberization process and whose main application is to be used as a raw material for other manufacturing processes.
  • Boards. Composed of fibers and a variety of organic and/or inorganic binder fillers that acquire a rigid quality through the vacuum-forming process. They are commonly used as sheeting/cladding and thermal barriers in high temperature equipment.
  • Paper. This is a light refractory material. It is strong and can be cut with a utility knife, scissors, or a standard steel razor. Its flexibility allows it to be wrapped or rolled to conform to whichever shapes are required.
  • Modules. Fiber blocks are designed to protect industrial furnaces and provide a high quality insulation system for different processes. Each module is continuously compressed and folded according to a density that contributes to providing a longer useful life to industrial furnaces.
ceramic fiber modules NUTEC

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Industry Applications

Due to its characteristics, ceramic fiber has various industrial applications. For example:

  • Ceramics and glass industry. For insulation in furnace car seals and lining in doors and walls.
  • Automotive industry. For electric vehicles and conventional trains, from exhaust heat shields and airbag inflators to lithium battery separators.
  • Construction Industry. For both ventilation ducts or grilles (commercial premises, hotels, restaurants, and casinos), chimneys, and prefabricated duct systems.
  • Oil & gas industry. Protects structures and equipment, such as pyrolysis ovens, heaters, walls, roofs, and crude oil heaters.
  • Power generation industry. For boilers, turbines, and pipe insulation, among others.

To sum up

Ceramic fibers have high thermal resistance. Their low conductivity and low heat storage improve process efficiency and promote energy savings.

Remember that the ceramic fiber you need will be determined by the temperature level you use and the equipment you want to protect from heat.

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