Thin film pipe insulation coating by Syneffex™ solves multiple problems with one high temperature insulation product and keeps cold water cold and steam contained.

You may be surprised to know that the folks living in a place like Fairbanks, Alaska can have issues getting cold water. This is what was happening several years ago at Fort Wainwright Army base. Those living on base would turn on the cold faucet and warm water would come out. The issue was that, due to the frigid cold in that part of the world, pipes are often housed in a utility tunnel, also known as a utilidor, which is a passage built underground or above ground to carry utility lines such as electricity, water supply pipes, and sewer pipes. 

The utilidor at Fort Wainwright that housed the cold water pipes also housed steam pipes that were running right alongside them, which was why the buildings on base were having a hard time getting cold water in a place like Alaska. Of course they were also losing a lot of energy from uninsulated steam pipes, but the cold water was the most immediate problem.

Traditional insulation was not a good option because it was too bulky for the confined space and it caused corrosion of the pipes. CUI or Corrosion Under Insulation happens when moisture is trapped beneath fiberglass, mineral wool, or similar types of insulation, and it is very costly and dangerous. It can also tend to happen more easily when piping is either buried or housed in underground tunnels and not seen every day.

Read more about Corrosion and Pinhole Leaks

The government contractor working on the issue suggested Syneffex™ High Heat thermal insulation coating as a way to easily insulate the steam pipes and cold water pipes and prevent corrosion with the same product, without talking up valuable space. The thin film insulation acting as an effective pipe insulation coating provided some attractive options:

  • Easy spray on application
  • Can be applied while pipes were in service
  • Excellent pipe insulation for both hot and cold surfaces
  • Thin film insulation that can also prevent corrosion
  • Water-based, eco-friendly insulation coating
  • Lasts 5-10 years without degrading
  • Saves energy and has short payback period (typically 6-18 months)
  • Easily solved the issue with cold water delivery

The thin film insulation coating was spray applied as pipe insulation to the steam pipes and cold water pipes and exceeded all expectations for pipe insulation. Thermal imaging was taken over a section of steam pipe to illustrate the performance and just a thin 3-coat coverage of the Heat Shield™ High Heat insulation coating provided a 68 degree Fahrenheit difference on steam pipes, reducing the temperature from approximately 301F (149.5C) down to approximately 233.1F (111.72C) in just a thin insulation coverage.

Steam Pipe Insulation Thermal Imagine

The coating also provided the same excellent insulation for the cold water pipes. It allowed cold water to be delivered to the homes and buildings on base without the steam causing it to be warm. Significant energy was also saved from reducing the heat loss from the steam pipes and maintenance costs were greatly reduced because the coating prevents corrosion too.

Do you need a solution for too hot or too cold pipes, tanks or other surfaces? Request a Specification and we will send you a solution.

Corrosion and CUI cost organizations billions each year in downtime, maintenance costs, and lost energy costs. Small pinhole leaks can form beneath traditional types of insulation and cladding and often can go undetected for weeks or months, until they grow large enough to cause major issues.

Being hidden under this older insulation system means that the leak can remain undetected as the steam saturates the surrounding insulation, growing larger until finally discovered, then the whole insulation system has to be taken off and replaced while you try to find and repair it.

With Heat Shield™ EPX-H2O or Heat Shield™ High Heat the insulation doubles as an anticorrosive, so the coatings prevent the corrosion in the first place. In the unlikely event that there is a pinhole leak in the future, the whole system doesn’t have to be taken off and replaced. The steam will penetrate through the coating at the exact location of the leak and you can simply sand, grind or use a chemical remover on approximately a 3” to 4” circle around the leak, repair the leak, then just coat back over it when finished. Much easier and less costly.

How much are those pinhole corrosion leaks costing you? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a leak that is just 1/8” can cost you $409 per month and one that is 1/4” could cost you $1,630 per month. (see chart below)