Aerogel Academy

John Williams

As Vice President of Marketing & Technical Services at Aspen Aerogels, John is the primary technical point of contact for applications within the refining, petrochemical, and power industries. An aerospace engineer by training, his expertise is in the design and analysis of thermal, structural, and fluid systems.

Recent Posts

The Influence Of Insulation Materials On CUI

Posted by John Williams on March 20, 2019

As facilities engineers and operators know, a Corrosion Under Insulation (CUI) mitigation plan is critical to combating the problems that arise from wet insulation and CUI, such as process instability, reduced outputs, loss of containment, and personnel safety incidents. 

But, it's the designer of industrial insulation systems that creates a system that stands the test of time in CUI defense. That being said, the designer has three main weapons in the fight against CUI. The first and primary defense against CUI is a high quality, immersion-grade coating. The second is a properly designed and installed weather barrier jacketing and, if operating below the atmospheric dew point, vapor barrier. The third and, arguably, least understood element is the choice of insulation material. Historically, hot insulation products have been divided into categories of wetting and non-wetting, or “hydrophobic” materials. The distinction is important because, as pointed out in NACE Standard RP0198-98:

“Because CUI is a product of wet metal exposure duration, the insulation system that holds the least amount of water and dries most quickly should result in the least amount of corrosion damage to equipment.”

A more recent European monograph states flatly:

“Insulation that minimizes water ingress and does not retain water can effectively act as a barrier to CUI.”

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Topics: Weather, Aerogel Insulation, CUI, Wet Insulation, Lightweight Insulation, Process Instability, asset protection

Playing Hide and Seek with CUI

Posted by John Williams on February 7, 2019

CUI can be difficult to locate, but we know that in order for CUI to be present, there must be the presence of water in a system. Many times you don’t know that CUI is an issue until something goes wrong—such as loss of containment, processes becoming unstable, or your personnel getting injured. After years of aiding customers in defending against CUI with Pyrogel, we offer the following tips for places to check for CUI in your facility.

  1. Piping near or above open bodies of water, such as jetty lines.
  2. Areas exposed to mist over-spray from cooling water towers, steam vents, and deluge systems.
  3. Steam-traced systems, especially those insulated with water-absorbent, and/or rigid insulation materials.
  4. Equipment in cyclic (i.e., operating both above and below the atmospheric dewpoint) or intermittent service.
  5. Areas where proper application of surface coating is either not feasible, not guaranteed, or where coatings have degraded.
  6. Areas subject to heavy foot traffic.
  7. Tank roofs, especially those with sub-girt systems and fibrous insulation.
  8. Pipe running through sub-surface road crossings.
  9. Areas where moisture can pond, such as vertical pipe supports, valve bonnets, and insulation- and/or vacuum support rings.
  10. Piping expansion loops, where the elbow jacketing tends to open up and fish-mouth.
  11. At the bottom elbow of any vertical pipe run.
  12. On horizontal equipment, the areas directly beneath any top-side penetration (nozzles, ladder clips, davits, etc.).
  13. Sub-surface vaults where buried pipe systems are joined and valved.
  14. Any pipe running within a trench or impoundment area.
  15. Low points where the horizontal pipe is insulated with ill-fitting, rigid insulation.
  16. Piping systems that have a tendency to move or vibrate, causing damage to insulation jacketing.
  17. Top heads of insulated tanks.

How about you? Have you noticed an area more prone to CUI that others? Tell us about in the comments section below.

Need help preventing wet insulation, CUI, and process instability? Visit our CUI Defense Zone.

Visit CUI Defense Zone

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Topics: CUI, Wet Insulation

After the Flood: Safely and Quickly Restarting Insulated Piping and Equipment

Posted by John Williams on September 13, 2017

Rain, winds, and recent flooding have affected our families, friends and colleagues around the world. As recovery efforts get underway, we want to help our customers and contractors restart impacted plants and processes safely and efficiently. If thermal insulation on your facility has been impacted by recent destructive weather events, refer to the following Technical Bulletin for guidance.


When an industrial facility gets flooded, low-lying thermal insulation is often one of the first elements to be affected. High winds, moving water, and falling debris can further damage insulated surfaces. To safely and quickly navigate the restart of insulated piping and equipment, consider the following four steps:

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Topics: Wet Insulation, Technical Bulletin, Flooding

About This Blog
If you ever wanted to know more about aerogels and the important role they play in our world, this is the blog for you. We’ll shed light on these remarkable materials, starting with our breakthrough innovations in silica aerogel blanket insulations. Join us as we venture into a world where aerogels made from a variety of materials play critical roles in energy storage, natural resource preservation, and more. Welcome to our Aerogel Technology Platform. Welcome to Aspen Aerogels.

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