In 2014, a polar vortex descended on the Northern United States with a severe impact on the power industry. More than 19,500 megawatts of generating capacity was lost due to cold weather, and 17,700 MW was because of frozen equipment, according to a review by the North American Electric Reliability Corp.
During this event, cold took down nearly every type of equipment found on electric generating plants. Much of the damage was attributed to equipment not having been designed to withstand such extreme cold (Energywire, Oct. 1, 2014). Since this time—and even more so following the polar vortex in the Midwestern U.S. in 2019—many plants have reconsidered their winterization plans. Is your plant ready for a deep freeze?
As winter weather approaches, power plant operators must remain vigilant in preventing freezing of their equipment. Frozen piping, valves, actuators, and instrumentation systems can result in ruptures, leaks, and failures that have devastating consequences—such as costly downtime and unplanned outages.
Plant operators and maintenance personnel must ensure that all means of freeze protection are in place before the temperature drops. One way to prevent a freeze-related catastrophe is to select and install the right kind of thermal insulation.
When water has entered into your insulation system, sub-freezing temperatures will bring frozen insulation or worse. Fuel oil lines are particularly susceptible to this damage mechanism. Many heat tracing systems are designed to operate hand-in-hand with thermal insulation—their power output is designed in conjunction with the thermal protection provided by the insulation. If your insulation is wet and/or frozen, the heat tracing system will not be able to keep up, allowing the temperature of your piping or instrumentation to drop to below critical levels.
Prevent Unplanned Outages & Service Interruptions Of Critical Equipment.
With these cold-weather challenges in mind, Aspen has designed a game-changing thermal insulation for the power market: Pyrogel®. Representing the pinnacle of insulation design, Pyrogel is hydrophobic and breathable, therefore maintaining its thermal performance when exposed to snow and water—plus, it will not freeze. For systems that are under-insulated, consider Pyrogel as an overwrap or as a full replacement that will withstand the harshest winter environments.
Installing Pyrogel ensures the continuous protection and operation of mission-critical systems and services, even during a polar vortex. It is engineered to provide long-term performance for the ultimate in safety, process efficiency, and stability for the power generation industry.
The Pyrogel Advantage.
- Hydrophobicity & Breathability.
Pyrogel is hydrophobic and breathable, resisting liquid water and avoiding the damaging effects of wet insulation and freezing conditions. These unique characteristics combine to minimize heat loss and provide the ultimate freeze protection for mission-critical pipes and assets.
- Space & Speed of Install.
Pyrogel delivers safe and efficient thermal protection with designs that are 2-5 times thinner than competing insulations. For plant designers and operators, Pyrogel helps to avoid mechanical clashes, increase racking density, and ensure continuity of thermal protection. The unique format promotes faster application rates, particularly on large-bore pipe and vessels—all while providing world- class freeze protection.
- Durability & Versatility.
Pyrogel is durable, maintaining its shape and location even after vibration, footfalls, tool strikes, or exposure to extreme temperatures. Unlike rigid pipe shells, a single roll of Pyrogel can be used to insulate any surface in your facility, from the smallest condensate line to the largest vessel. This versatile format lets you provide freeze protection anywhere in your plant.
- Maintenance, Reusability & TCO.
Pyrogel resists the three enemies of thermal insulation: heat, water and mechanical abuse, rendering it fully reusable up to its maximum use temperature of 1200°F. A reusable insulation lowers the total cost of ownership (TCO) significantly—say goodbye to single-use insulations. Pyrogel is ideal for high-energy piping, turbine, and other frequently-inspected systems.
Interested in trying Pyrogel to see how it can benefit your plant? Check out our Pyrogel Pony Rolls—all of the power of Pyrogel in a grab-and-go, 80 square foot roll.