What is Mechanical Insulation?
Simply put, mechanical insulation is a product or combination of products applied to a mechanical system that reduces the rate of heat transfer or sound propagation between the system and its surrounding environment. To truly understand this term, let’s take a look at the five reasons a design engineer would specify this type of insulation:
Let’s say your mechanical system is hot water running through a school. The water becomes hot at the boiler. As pumps circulate it through piping around the building, the water cools as heat transfers to the ambient environment.
By insulating the pipe, the water is able to better maintain its temperature as it flows. Keeping the pipe hotter for longer reduces the demand placed on the boiler. In other words, it requires less energy to do its job.
Industrial processes are similar to the recipes in your grandmother’s cookbook. Variables like: quantity, timing, speed and temperature sometimes are critical reach the desired end result. Insulation can help regulate the temperature of liquid, air or other media that is an ingredient of an industrial process.
Condensation can take place when mechanical systems operate at temperatures colder than their surrounding environment. Covering the system with insulation offers protection from this threat in two ways.
First, the proper thickness of insulation will move the dew point away from the surface of the pipe. Second, the insulation system can be designed to protect from water vapor ingress by way of closed-cell insulation materials and vapor barrier jackets.
Some mechanical systems create extremely hot or cold surface temperatures. When those surfaces are within reach of people, safety precautions must be made. One solution is to add the necessary thickness of insulation that will reduce the surface temperature to a degree that is safe to touch.
Since all mechanical systems involve movement of some kind, it’s expected that most will generate sound. Insulation can be applied to reduce the rate at which sound waves can leave the system similar to the way it regulates heat transfer.
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