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Manufacturer of SHANNON removable and reusable BLANKET INSULATION

thermal blanket insulation • acoustic blanket insulation • Insultech®

75 Main Street • North Tonawanda, NY 14120 • Phone: (716) 693-7954 • Fax: (716) 693-1647 • Email:

Blanket Insulation/Energy Savings Case Studies

News for building managers & engineers. One Chilton Way Radnor, PA 19089.

Insulation Upgrades Set to Save College 1 Million Lbs. of Steam/Yr.

EUN Case History Follow up: Pennsylvania College of Podiatric Medicine

By Mike Randazzo

PHILADELPHIA - After wrapping main steam line pipes and valves plus assorted distribution devices with removable insulation blankets a year ago, the Pennsylvania College of Podiatric Medicine here is on track to record annual steam savings of more than 1 million pounds.

Motivated by the potential for a rapid return on investment, as well as the opportunity to address repair and comfort issues, the college spent $4,298 in November 1995 to insulate about 205 square feet of gate valve bonnets, pipe flanges, pressure relief valves, steam strainers, pressure-reducing devices, steam traps, and condensate equipment. The job was performed with InsultechTM custom-fit removable and reusable blanket-type insulation from Shannon Enterprises Inc., North Tonawanda, N.Y.

With almost a full year of energy analysis available when he spoke to EUN last month, Anthony Morris, the college's physical plant director, said the retrofit should yield yearly savings of 1,012,253 pounds of steam. By insulating radiant surface areas that previously were either bare or covered by deteriorating rigid lagging compound, the upgrade should cut the institution's yearly steam expenses by $15,366. It earned a payback in under four months.

The college's latest utility cost control measure followed a highly successful direct digital control installation on heating equipment that reduced steam use by 1.2 million pounds, trimmed power consumption by 319,000 kilowatt hours, enhanced building maintenance efforts, and alleviated long-standing heating and cooling complaints at the 153,000-square-foot, six-story medical college and clinic (see March EUN, page 1).

Michael Makofsky, a sales engineer with InsultechTM representative Tech Reps Inc., Cherry Hill, N.J., explained that the new steam system insulation is a customized, high-temperature jacket. The inch-thick flexible material, filled with fiberglass mat, was applied to 32 devices in the school's basement and penthouse, where steam is used to produce hot water for domestic use, air handlers, and perimeter heating systems. Thermal utility Trigen-Philadelphia Energy Corp., the college's steam supplier, played a key role in the retrofit, according to Morris, who said he contacted the company in July 1995 to request a steam distribution system evaluation and recommendations for efficiency improvements.

"We saw our steam costs rising, so we called in Trigen to survey the facility and help us save on our energy costs," he explained.

Trigen officials identified new insulation as a potential means to help the end user limit heat loss. Other benefits of the retrofit would include easier access for maintenance and improved working conditions.

"We had a lot of stuff that was going bad," Morris related. "The insulation was deteriorating and falling off, especially around valves. The maintenance feature was a good selling point. If you had a leak with the old insulation system, you had to go in and break off the insulation. If you tried to cut it off, nine out of ten times it would be destroyed."

That meant workers often had to allot extra time to replace damaged insulation, he continued. Now, insulation installation and removal can be performed in minutes.

"We can remove the jacket-type insulation and do work on the valves, then just tie it back on," Morris confirmed.

While no specific labor savings were calculated for the project, Morris noted that at times in the past, he had to hire professional laggers to reinsulate large piping areas. The new system will eliminate that need, enhancing the financial benefits the college realizes.

The new insulation also improved the comfort of workers, according to Morris. With less heat escaping from pipes into the two equipment rooms, the rooms are noticeably cooler, he observed.

"In the mechanical room alone, even in the winter, when you went in the temperature would be around 90 degrees," he told EUN, claiming the retrofit has lowered ambient temperatures by 25 degrees.

According to Robert Scanlan, the college's Trigen account representative, the school's first experience with the new type of insulation came during a meter replacement in May 1995, when Trigen wrapped the steam meter's flanged connections with the material.

"After reviewing the new steam meter replacement project with the end user, I provided him with information regarding the insulation blankets," Scanlan noted.

Scanlan also encouraged Morris to contact Tech Reps for an engineering survey of the site's steam piping distribution network, a service the company performs free for prospective clients.

Makofsky related that in July 1995 he inventoried each piece of steam specialty equipment operating at 200º F or higher in the college's penthouse and basement, and developed a list of equipment that needed insulation. As part of the survey, he collected estimated operating times, ambient temperature, the equipment's exposed surface area, and the cost per 1,000 pounds of steam, quoted by Morris at $15.18. The data were evaluated by Shannon Enterprises.

While heat loss survey isn't a fool-proof way to ascertain the cost-effectiveness of insulation blankets, Makofsky said it is a fairly good indicator of predicted performance.

"No survey is an exact science, and there is no way that it can be," he elaborated. "It's pretty much a barometer that points the user in the right direction. Whether they insulate or not, at least it gives them an inventory list of what they have."

In the instance of the college's basement condensate tank, heat losses were estimated at about 15,768 Btu's per hour - a thermal transfer rate that was costing Morris about $2,100 a year.

"It was so hot that you could make tea on that tank," Makofsky recalled.

When covered with one-inch insulation rated by Shannon at R-3.85, the heat loss fell to 1,185 Btu's an hour, meaning that with the insulation, the value of the wasted energy fell to $158 a year, yielding potential annual savings of $1,942. With a cost of $776 to jacket the tank, a payback on that item was predicted in less than five months.

The original survey projected a four-month payback for the entire project. Morris called the decision a "no-brainer."

The insulation was installed by the college's maintenance staff in about four hours, he recalled. The jackets were attached using an optional lacing pin arrangement, in which a wire is permanently anchored to one end of the insulation. The technician manually laces the wire through hooks spread over the length of the insulation's exterior. The end of the wire is connected to the last hook on the blanket. Blankets can also be ordered with wire twists, Velcro strips, belt fasteners, or polypropylene plastic buckles.

With average R-values of 3.45-4.55 per inch, the removable blankets are available in thicknesses from on to three inches in half-inch increments. Jacket fabric options include silicone-impregnated fiberglass cloth, stainless steel wire mesh, stainless steel foil, standard fiberglass lagging cloth, and silica cloth. In addition to the fiberglass mat that was used at the college, insulation filler material choices include needled ceramic fiber mat and spun fiberglass.

InsultechTM can be deployed in a variety of commercial, industrial, and institutional applications with temperatures ranging from 200º to 2,300º F, according to the manufacturer, for such additional uses as steam turbines, pumps, manifolds, engine exhaust systems, expansion joints, and orifice flanges.

Reprinted from Energy User News November 1996 copyright Energy User News 1996