Industry has long been searching for this innovation: a flexible insulation material that provides lasting protection from heat loss in industrial systems. Developed by ContiTech Elastomer Coatings, this new material encases even the most complex pipe systems – completely.
The majority of facilities in the energy, chemicals, aluminum, steel, pharmaceuticals and food industry, as well as at ContiTech itself, use hot steam and water in the production process. A lengthy system of pipes feeds these media through to where they are needed. It comes as no surprise, then, that companies are looking to install thermal insulation systems that not only enclose as much of the piping as possible but are also eco-friendly, effective and cost-efficient.
In the past, no insulation material was available that adequately dealt with difficult-to-reach areas in piping systems. As a result, these systems wasted a lot of energy. ContiTech Elastomer Coatings silicon material is a groundbreaking solution in this regard. Conti® Thermo-Protect is now able to provide complete insulation for systems of this type, even in difficult-to-reach and critical areas where conventional solutions fail to provide sufficient sealing and insulation properties.
A special closed-cell, microporous silicone rubber blend makes the material very easy to use. It lends itself well to winding or molding bandage-like around any shape or any branch connection; it is self-adhesive and vulcanizes permanently by means of the heat from the medium flowing through the pipes. Once vulcanized, the material offers reliable, fully enclosed insulation for temperatures up to 250°C. The material remains flexible, though, even at temperatures as low as minus 50°C. A material thickness of just 10 mm is all it takes to reduce heat loss by 50 percent. “Our new silicone-rubber insulation material can provide production facilities with immediate and total insulation – a world first,” explains Hans-Peter Paulsen, responsible for business development at ContiTech Elastomer Coatings. Other advantages of the product are that it provides a tight seal, is water-repellent and self-extinguishing, and can resist a wide range of media. “Sealing a leak in the pipe or modifying the piping system is no longer a problem. The insulation layer can simply be cut out at the spot concerned and then reinstalled as a molded part once the repairs have been completed,” adds Paulsen.
Easy Application and Reusability
Conti® Thermo-Protect is easy to apply and, most importantly, easy to remove when the pipes have to be serviced. This ups its user-friendliness. There is no need to enlist the help of external specialists. Any employee wearing appropriate gloves can work with this material. Conti® Thermo-Protect is reusable. Thanks to its durability, it is a more economical alternative to conventional insulating solutions. ContiTech Elastomer Coatings can equip all suitable industrial systems worldwide with this silicone product. This enormous potential allows the company to contribute actively to climate neutrality.
Successful Market Launch
In April 2011, the business unit unveiled the product for the first time to a keen audience of industry experts. It immediately met with an enthusiastic response. The company received numerous inquiries from around the world and from the most diverse sectors of industry. These included chemical companies, district heating system operators and a paraglider engine manufacturer, all interested in using the insulating material. The special properties of Conti® Thermo-Protect also enable engineers to consider design modifications, like positioning smaller structural units closer together. The material scores in terms of occupational health and safety, too. Conti® Thermo-Protect reduces not only the risk of burns, but likewise lowers the level of radiant heat, so that production facilities are less prone to overheating.
A number of companies – including the ContiTech business units Power Transmission Group and Elastomer Coatings – have already started using the new insulation material in their facilities and are pleased with its performance. But Hans-Peter Paulsen also sees potential for homeowners. Many non-industry visitors to the trade fair felt that the material would offer ideal insulation for residential heating and hot-water pipes. Developers are already hard at work on the next generation of Conti® Thermo-Protect for special temperature ranges.