Piping Insulation - The Rodney Dangerfield of Energy Conservation

Process Optimization

Many paper mills will have hundreds of feet of exposed steam and condensate pipes. Insulation may have been removed for maintenance work or is in such poor condition that it provides little insulation value.

A perception exists that the energy loss is not significant and the lack of good pipe insulation is often overlooked when assessing energy conservation opportunities. Like Rodney, piping insulation gets no respect.

For example, a ten foot length of 6" pipe handling 100 psig steam will have a heat loss of 14,100 Btu/hr. This can be reduced to 865 Btu/hr with proper insulation. If the energy cost is $6 per million Btu, the savings would be $600 per year. Insulation of exposed piping can quickly add up to significant savings. Insulation has the added benefit of improving the machine room operating temperature and providing a safer working environment.

The Department of Energy has free software available called 3E Plus.This software can be used to assess the value of insulation of pipes and tanks. It can be accessed at the Dept. of Energy website. Look for the Steam System Tool Suite. There are other useful free tools at this site to help with energy conservation efforts.

Source: Kadant