In this edition of the Aspen Academy Blog we are going to focus on snakes. Yes, great big, venomous, dangerous snakes—the kind that can ruin your day. You’re probably asking yourself, “What could snakes have to do with thermal insulation?”
Quite a lot, it seems. At the 2009 AIChE Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety, J.B. Prows delivered a paper1 that addressed the jet fire event at the Huntsman Petrochemical plant in Port Arthur, Texas. Corrosion under insulation (CUI) due to persistently wet insulation was identified at the primary cause of a catastrophic fire in the Light Olefins Unit. The cost of reconstruction exceeded $300m and took 14 months to complete. The author likened the potential defects caused by CUI to rattlesnakes, which prompted the title Killing Rattlesnakes Before They Bite You.
The metaphor is not lost on the team at Aspen Aerogels. Our Pyrogel high temperature insulation is engineered to provide superior CUI defense, and is required to meet or exceed a host of test standards. So it was with a sense of great satisfaction that we added a new criteria to our qualification—Pyrogel is snake-safe.