Are You Using the Right Insulation?

Selecting the proper insulation for any given application is crucial to designing an efficient, high-performing system.  In fact, product selection is one key detail that can oftentimes make or break an overall proper system design. Each insulation, however, brings unique benefits and drawbacks to the table that a designer should carefully weigh against the overall demands of the application.

Naturally, the first consideration of insulation product selection should focus on the temperature requirements of the application. Using an insulation that isn’t designed to perform at high temperatures on a high-temperature application is a recipe for failure. It’s not, however, just the insulation material that needs to perform at high temperatures; the binder that holds the insulation together is also heavily influenced by temperatures. For example, mineral wool insulation material is able to withstand temperatures in excess of 2000°F.  The organic binder often used with mineral wool, however, will break down long before the thermal performance of the insulation fails. This is called “binder burnout,” and when it happens, the structural integrity of the insulation is compromised, which can cause the insulation to sag or become deformed.

In addition to thermal performance and binder burnout, features like compressive strength, corrosive potential, weight, space constraints, and cost will come into play when selecting the proper insulation for your application. In some applications, like areas with a lot of foot-traffic, compressive strength may be a top priority. Compressive strength, however, tends to also come with added weight because the material typically has a more robust composition. Thus, if weight is a consideration (on vertical pipes, for example), then a lighter weight insulation may be a better alternative.

As designers examine the unique features of their applications and the insulation product offerings in detail, it can become a complicated endeavor rather quickly. That’s why we’ve developed the Product Application Rating Tool (PART) - a customizable calculator designed to help you determine which insulation is best for your application.

There are two things to keep in mind when using this tool. First, we only rate JM materials. There are other materials that are available in the industry that can also be used in industrial applications. However, since JM offers the broadest portfolio of industrial insulation products, we are uniquely positioned to objectively explore the benefits and drawbacks of each material we offer for any given application.

The second thing to keep in mind is that the PART is designed to assist you in considering which insulation is optimal based on what you designate is the most important criteria for your application. As a result, while there are several insulations that may offer similar performance in one area, the “best” performance-based choice will get a substantially higher score than its close second in that same category. We, therefore, recommend following up on the information you gather from the PART with either an insulation data sheet or by visiting the corresponding insulation’s product page on our website. The PART is intended to help guide either the specifying engineer or the owner in his/her decision-making process, but, ultimately, the material choice is for each user to decide based upon their own unique criteria.

If you have any questions after using the PART, please don’t hesitate to contact our technical team at 800-866-3234.

Click here to use the PART