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Pre-Insulated Pipework benefits
29 Jun 2022

How Pre-Insulated Pipework Is Used Across Industries, From Oil and Gas to Pharmaceuticals

Maintaining the thermal efficiency of pipework is critical in many manufacturing, commercial, and industrial settings. In order to keep the media moving through your system at a certain temperature, you need pipes that have been purpose-built to offer exceptional thermal resistance. Otherwise, you could be wasting energy. You might also shorten the lifespan of your pipes due to condensation issues and corrosion.

Pre-insulated pipes solve these problems and more. They boost thermal efficiency, increase energy conservation, and have the potential to reduce operating costs.

With these clear advantages, it’s no surprise that a number of industries are increasingly turning to this type of pipework. Oil and gas, construction, processing plants, cryogenics, and pharmaceuticals can each benefit from the use of pre-insulated pipes.

To understand how essential pre-insulated systems are, let’s look at how pre-insulated pipes work and how they are being used in key industries.

What Are Pre-Insulated Pipes?

Pre-insulated pipes come with a layer of built-in insulation made from polyurethane foam (PUF). The pipe insulation can be customised to meet the size, thickness, and density requirements of any project.

Installed between the inner pipe and the jacket pipe, the insulation acts to minimise the movement of heat, keeping the media in the pipes at the appropriate hot or cold temperature.

Because the PUF is bonded to the pipes during the manufacturing process, it’s possible to achieve highly specialised pipe insulation that can suit the needs of even the most demanding applications.

For example, in situations where extremely hot or cold temperatures are required, such as in nitrogen production plants or when transporting liquified natural gas (LNG), steam, or hot oil, you can count on exceptional thermal efficiency and pipe durability with pre-insulated systems.

Pre-Insulated Pipework

The Process Behind Pre-Insulated Systems

To build pre-insulated pipes, polyurethane foam is poured into steel moulds and cured. How long the PUF cures determines the thickness and density of the insulation. The PUF is firmly bonded to the inner carrier pipe, which can be steel or copper.

PUF consists of polyol and isocyanate, and it’s well-known for its exceptional insulation properties. On its own, it can insulate pipe systems at temperatures ranging from -200°C to 140°C. With the addition of mineral wool for added insulation, a pre-insulated pipe system can maintain temperatures as high as 250°C.

In addition to bonding the insulation with the metal pipes, joints are installed and pressure tested during the production process. So, by the time the pipes are ready to go to the project site to be installed, they are fully assembled, quality-tested, and ready for use.

Pre-Insulated vs Traditionally Insulated Pipes

Because of the way they are made, pre-insulated pipes offer a number of advantages over traditional pipes.

How Different Industries Are Using Pre-Insulated Pipes

The global market for pre-insulated pipes is forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.1 per cent from 2021 to 2028. This rapid growth is due to increased usage in a variety of industries that require precise thermal control.

Oil and gas, construction, water treatment, food processing plants, chemical processing plants, and pharmaceuticals are all opting for pre-insulated systems to maintain better temperature control and enhance the flow quality of the materials or liquids moving through their pipes.

Oil and Gas

The average oil refinery contains hundreds of kilometres of piping, which means there are infinite opportunities for thermal energy to transfer through the pipework if you don’t have premium-quality insulation. This thermal leakage can lead to huge financial losses and wasted energy, which is why pre-insulated systems are so important. 

Pre-insulated pipes also serve to keep materials that require extreme cold, like liquefied natural gas (LNG), liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and ethylene, at the right temperatures during storage and transit over long distances.

Cryogenics

Cryogenic systems, whether used to transport hydrocarbons or other materials, require extremely cold temperatures and flawless thermal resistance. For cryogenic applications, some pipes are vacuum sealed or rely on a second or third insulation layer to increase the safety and durability of the piping.

Chemical Processing

One of the big concerns with chemical processing is keeping hazardous fluids away from anywhere they could cause harm or start a fire. Pre-insulated piping safely seals in hazardous materials and maintains their required temperature. By maintaining stable temperatures, the pipes also allow chemical reactions to occur normally.

Construction and Infrastructure

From water treatment plants to boiler systems and underground pipework, industrial insulation has to stand up to heavy usage. Pre-insulated piping is ideal for these applications because it’s easier to maintain and clean than traditionally installed pipes.

Food Processing

The PUF insulation and watertight construction prevent problems such as bacterial growth or issues with condensation, ensuring the pipes live up to the hygiene and safety standards required by the food processing industry.

Pharmaceuticals

The pharmaceutical industry requires water and heating and cooling systems to be at precise temperatures, but traditional pipes can’t be customised down to the granular level like pre-insulated pipes can. Pharmaceutical production facilities are able to get the thermal stability they need with specially made pre-insulated piping.

Start Saving Energy and Money with High-Quality Pre-Insulated Piping

More durable, easier to maintain, and highly customisable, pre-insulated pipes are superior to traditionally made pipework. But for many industries, they also offer vital energy and cost-saving benefits.

Advanced Insulation & Fabrications has been providing top-quality pre-insulated pipe systems at fair prices for nearly a decade. We also offer a five-year warranty on all of our pipework for added peace of mind. Call us today and find out how we can make your facility more energy efficient with customised pre-insulated piping.