Fresh off a trip to The Land Down Under, we spent a few minutes with Shane Hebert, senior applications engineer at Aspen Aerogels. Shane was in Australia to conduct installation training for an LNG liquefaction project, something that's a mainstay of his job description. Shane has traveled to over 25 countries, visiting end-users, EPC's, and contractors alike to offer training and support, including the best techniques to properly install our flexible aerogel insulation products.
Shane is an expert, no doubt about it. That's why we asked him to reveal his top tips for anyone new to our material—and for seasoned aerogel veterans alike.
The insulation Aspen Aerogels designs and manufactures comes in a space-saving, flexible blanket form—a format that offers versatility not found in most rigid and fibrous insulation products. Pyrogel® and Cryogel® insulation can be cut to fit just about any shape or size, from small bore pipe to the largest of vessels. The flexible blanket form also supports faster, and safer installation across a wide range of applications in new builds, for maintenance events and in turnarounds.
Pyrogel and Cryogel's rapid installation enhances productivity and reduces costs. However, Aspen's customers are oftentimes unaware of the small installation techniques that will make their project run even more smoothly, save even more time and reduce even more cost.
Shane Hebert's knowledge comes from real-world experience. He started his career in New Orleans, and was a card-carrying member of Insulators Local 53 for 10 years. He continued in the industry in a variety of positions including superintendent, project manager, estimator and foreman.
Shane joined Aspen's Technical Services team almost 10 years ago. Since that time, Shane has averaged over 250,000 miles by plane and 40,000 miles by car each year to share his technical expertise with customers both in the U.S. and around the world.
It's worth listening to Shane. His installation tips can turn a good installation job into a great and highly successful one. His tips start with:
The first tip Shane gives field installers is always this: cut a small strip of material off the roll you're working with, create a belt of material and use the belt as a measuring device. Simple as that.
Pyrogel and Cryogel are extremely durable, but that doesn't mean you need to beat the insulation into submission. When you're installing the insulation on the pipe, regardless of butt or lap joint, you don't need to slap the material to get it to lie flat. Simply slide your gloved hands over the material and gently tension it toward the joint.
Go with the Grain
If you find that you've come up short on a butt joint, check to make sure you haven't reversed the direction of the aerogel material. To do this, just flip the piece of insulation you're working with, and chances are, it will fit.
Since Aspen's insulation comes in rolls, and the aerogel blanket has memory, the material will want to return to the same orientation in which it was wound—commonly called the grain. This characteristic of aerogel installation work is something you get used to quickly.
Don't Overthink It
While it's understandable that you want to plan ahead, oftentimes installers will overthink penetrations and cutouts for the aerogel material. When you're in the field, it's easier to test fit a blanket and then make cuts based on what you see. According to Shane, it's probably twice as fast and twice as easy to cut the product in this manner.
Easily Fix Mistakes
And guess what? Pyrogel and Cryogel are very forgiving. If you make a mistake, that piece you cut out is the piece that will correct your mistake. Simply use the piece as a bandage or patch—it will fit right back in like a jigsaw puzzle—and then adjust your next cut accordingly. Once the patched layer is covered by a layer of insulation or metal jacketing, the patch will be held in place and the insulation will perform as expected.
Waste not, want not. Always save your off-cuts. If you end up with voids around valves or flanges, fill them with off-cut material.
Think Outside the Box
Don't overthink it. Aspen's flexible aerogel insulation products afford you the ability to think outside the box. Use the pliability and flexibility of the material to fill the spaces and make the fits that you'd never achieve with rigid insulation.
Help is Available
The most important thing to remember is that we're here to help.
Our Technical Services team provides a wide variety of engineering services to end-users, EPC's and contractors worldwide. Contact us if you are interested in:
- Contractor training and support
- Thermal design services including steady state one dimensional, transient and finite element analysis
- Specification modifications and generation
- On-site system performance monitoring and verification
- Large scale testing programs
We're one of the only manufacturers in the industrial insulation space that offers value-add technical service. No request is too small and no question is too trivial. All you need to do is ask. Who knows, Shane may head your way to lend a hand.