Article

Common Types of Thermal Insulation for the Industrial Sector

Learn more about the different types of thermal insulation available in the NUTEC portfolio, to benefit from greater efficiency and avoid heat losses in your processes.

By NUTEC

6/20/2023

4 minutes

industrial worker on foundry using diverse types of thermal insulation
6/20/2023

4 minutes

Thermal insulation is fundamental in various industrial applications, as it offers benefits such as efficient heat management, improved energy consumption, and increased safety on production lines.

Proper insulation helps maintain optimal operating conditions and reduces energy consumption by controlling heat transfer. However, given the wide variety of insulating products on offer, having some guidance in this area comes in handy when making an informed purchase decision.

In this article, learn more about the different types of high temperature insulation products offered by NUTEC, their applications, and use recommendations.

Classifying the different types of insulation products

As you can see in this previous article, high temperature insulating products are used in applications that can exceed 2910°F (1600°C). Depending on your application, they come in various product formulations and chemistries/temperatures. Three main categories are freely available on the market:

  • Refractory Ceramic Fiber. This fiber is a blend of alumina and silica, capable of withstanding temperatures up to 2300°F (1260°C). Adding zirconia to this fiber allows temperatures up to 2600°F (1425°C).
  • Low Biopersistent Fiber. Also known as biosoluble fibers, LBP consists of a chemical composition of calcium, silica, and magnesium. It is suitable for temperatures up to 2190°F (1200°C).
  • Polycrystalline Fiber. With a chemical composition of polycrystalline mullite, this fiber offers high tensile strength, durability, and minimal shrinkage at elevated temperatures. It can be used for temperatures up to 3000°F (1650°C).

Insulation materials possess common features such as low thermal conductivity, low heat storage, high tensile strength, thermal shock resistance, sound absorption, and being asbestos-free.

Below is a list of the most common forms of industrial thermal insulating materials you’ll find in the NUTEC portfolio for industrial use: 

  • Blankets
  • Boards
  • Bulk & Engineered Fiber
  • Papers
  • Modules
  • Coatings and Mixes
  • Vacuum-Formed Shapes

Blankets

Insulation blankets are a versatile and widely used solution in the industrial sector. They comprise fibrous mechanically needled products to create an efficient thermal barrier.

By trapping air pockets between the fibers, insulation blankets effectively reduce heat transfer. They are commonly used in HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) walls, ceilings, pipes, and ductwork due to their flexibility, ease of installation, and ability to provide comprehensive coverage, thus promoting energy efficiency.

For high temperature applications, ceramic fiber blankets are extensively employed both inside and outside industrial furnaces. These blankets exhibit exceptional heat resistance, withstanding temperatures ranging from 2190°F (1200°C) to 3000°F (1650°C). Furthermore, due to their adaptable form, they can be easily cut, shaped, and used in conjunction with other products.

Pro Tip: NUTEC insulation fiber blankets offer hassle-free installation, requiring no curing or dry-out time. They enable rapid heat-up, and their outstanding thermal shock resistance ensures they will not crack or spall under extreme conditions.

NUTEC High Thermal Insulation Blankets

Boards

Panel insulation offers a durable and robust solution designed to withstand demanding conditions. It is manufactured through a vacuum-forming process, creating lightweight yet sturdy panels that excel in industrial applications.

The panels’ ability to resist air velocity, high vibrations, erosive forces, and mechanical stresses is a direct result of their forming process. This unique construction enables them to handle extremely high temperatures and endure harsh conditions, effectively serving as a solid barrier that minimizes heat transfer.

Two types of fibers are commonly used: Refractory Ceramic Fibers (RCF) and Low Biopersistence Fibers (LBP). These boards can withstand temperatures ranging from 2010°F (1100°C) to 3000°F (1650°C). You can find more information about their specific characteristics here.

Pro Tip: These vacuum-formed boards are specifically engineered to be strong, rigid, self-supporting, and highly resistant to high velocities, vibrations, erosive forces, and mechanical stresses.

sample of thermal insulation boards

Bulk and Engineering Fiber

These thermal insulation solutions are used in many industrial applications, and are made by melting high-purity alumina and silica as raw materials. Bulk fibers serve as the basis for various products, including moldable pieces and ceramic fiber boards.

When working with bulk fiber, it is crucial to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and follow proper safety precautions to prevent inhalation of loose particles that may be released into the air.

It is noteworthy that these bulk fibers and engineering fibers exhibit exceptional temperature resistance, withstanding temperatures ranging from 2190°F (1200°C) to 3000°F (1650°C).

You can find more information about the main features and applications of these solutions here.

Pro Tip: A broad range of high temperature fibers is available, designed for a variety of industrial and commercial applications, including vacuum-formed products, friction materials, coatings, and cements.

sample of bulk & engineered fiber

Papers

For creating insulating paper, the fibers are woven together through different manufacturing methods. This product combines high temperature stability with extremely low thermal conductivity, making it ideal for applications requiring thin, lightweight, resistant materials.

While durable, they can be cut with utility knives, scissors, or standard box cutters. Their characteristic flexibility allows them to be wrapped or rolled to conform to most shapes. Paper chemistry formulations include aluminosilicate or calcium magnesium silicate fibers of low biopersistence.

The papers can withstand temperatures from 2190°F (1200°C) to 2600°F (1425°C).

Pro tip: These insulating papers are commonly used throughout industry where thin, lightweight, high temperature materials are needed.

sample of thermal insulation papers

Modules

Modules are prefabricated. This means that can arrive at the installation site partially formed for further assembly, or in their final form ready for installation.

These modules are custom-made for use on industrial equipment, such as boilers, furnaces, and kilns, to provide thermal insulation up to 3000°F (1650°C). They are constructed using refractory ceramic fiber, polycrystalline wool, and low biopersistence fiber, which give them exceptional versatility.

Not only do these modules offer easy installation, but they also provide effective heat protection and maintain structural integrity under extreme conditions.

Pro tip: Explore our family of insulating modules, available in a variety of temperature grades and anchoring systems. Designed to be easily and quickly installed in high temperature furnaces and kilns.

NUTEC High Temperature Insulating Modules

Coatings and Mixes

Insulating coatings and mixes are versatile solutions that can improve the energy efficiency and safety of industrial facilities. They can be used to protect metallic structures, high temperature pipes, and equipment exposed to extreme conditions. 

By providing additional thermal protection, insulating coatings and mixes can help to reduce energy costs, prevent fires, and improve the safety of the workforce.

These products are multi-purpose, can withstand temperatures from 1900°F (1040°C) to 2700°F (1480°C), and are classified as follows:

  • Moldable. Manufactured from a mixture of fibers and aluminosilicate binders. Their sticky, putty-like consistency adheres to ceramic fiber, refractory material, and steel. They are used to prevent heat loss caused by the deterioration of existing coatings.
  • Pumpable. Ceramic fiber compounds are dispersed in a sticky mixture. They are fibrous, with excellent insulating properties, lightweight, and easy to install. Pumpable mixes and other ceramic fiber products have excellent wet adhesion to steel and refractories.
  • Coatings. Used as ceramic fiber reinforcement that, after drying, will harden the product's surface to make it even more resistant. They are typically used in applications at constant exposure to accelerated gas movement or in contact with flames. They blend well with blankets, modules, or other high temperature insulation surfaces when applied by brushing or spraying.

Pro tip: A family of coatings, cement, mastics, and pumpable/moldable products with high temperature and thermal shock resistance, chemical stability, excellent insulating properties, and ease of installation.

Discover more ways to extend the lifespan of your thermal insulation in the following NUTEC article.

sample of thermal insulation coatings and mixes

Vacuum-formed shapes

Vacuum forming is a wet forming process that uses different fiber types and binders to shape the wet product. Once formed, the product is dried and finished to meet the desired tolerances.

Vacuum-formed products can be produced with organic or inorganic (smoke-free) formulations, tailored to meet your specific product requirements. Special densities of vacuum-formed shapes can be provided upon request, and a wide range of shape configurations is available.

These products have been designed to withstand temperatures varying from 1830°F (1000°C) to 3000°F (1650°C).

Pro tip: Discover our extensive selection of specialized vacuum-formed shapes, engineered to withstand high velocities, while offering low thermal conductivity, minimal heat loss, and efficient heat storage.

sample of white vacuum-formed shapes

Textiles

Textile-based thermal insulation is available as clothes, ropes and braids. These products are manufactured from ceramic fibers.

Textiles are commonly used in industrial applications where custom insulation is required, such as removable covers, flexible conduits, or equipment wraps. They can withstand temperatures of 2300°F (1260°C).

Sample of thermal insulation textiles

In conclusion

Thermal insulation is a critical component in many industries, and with so many options available, it can be challenging to know which type is right for your needs. 

This article can serve as a guide to help you make an informed decision and ensure you pick the most suitable material, saving you money in the long run.
If you need engineering solutions for high temperatures, contact us today

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