A thermal shield plays a key role in guaranteeing the right conditions are kept within all types of pipe systems. Considering the specific temperature requirements in cryogenic pipes, we take a look at what exactly is a thermal shield and how this equipment helps achieve maximum efficiency in cryogenic pipes. 

Thermal shield: what is it?

A thermal shield is a layer or a number of layers that are located within a piping system in order to minimize heat flows and heat transfer issues. 

As such, it’s a key component in cryogenic piping, where heat transfer processes can have a significant impact on how efficient and sustainable a certain structure is, as well as the quality of the cryogenic materials it transports.

All in all, a thermal shield’s main function is to increase operating efficiency and energy conservation by reducing heat gains in cryogenic pipes.

Characteristics of pipes with a thermal shield

  • They provide thermal resistance. This quality translates into the capacity to avoid heat transfer processes between two surfaces.
  • They present correct apparent thermal conductivity and thermal conductivity values that are within acceptable ranges for cryogenic substances.
  • Pipes with a thermal shield present adequate thermal expansion and contraction values, as well as dimensional stability when subjected to heat. This will avoid undesirable outcomes such as openings, moisture flow paths or parallel heat flows.
  • They must present compressive resistance. This is specially important in order for piping to resist deformation under compressive forces. The right thermal pipe shield will be able to withstand it.

Related content: Ducting pipes: everything you need to know

  • Permeability to water vapor is also a consequence of applying the right thermal heat shield to cryogenic piping.
  • When a thermal shield is installed, it will provide piping with resistance to temperature changes (both high and low) that the material is expected to experience. It will also be resistant to weather inclemencies and several abuse situations without puncturing or deforming. The pipe will also be resistant to corrosion processes and fungal growth, which can seriously damage its performance and durability in the long term.
  • Adding a thermal shield can be a good strategy to provide piping with resistance against fire, as the structure will now be able to withstand exposure to high temperatures and flames with minimum losses of mechanical properties. This is, however, only true for specific insulation materials.

Thermal insulation materials used in pipes

The right thermal insulation materials must be picked on a case by case scenario, considering factors such as process temperatures, compressive resistance values, corrosion or fire performance requisites, among others. 

Some common thermal insulation materials include: 

  • Rubber foam 
  • Polyethylene foam
  • Glass wool or stone wool, covered with aluminum foil
  • XPS or EPS foams 
  • Polyurethane-phenol foam
  • White glass wool or stone wool mattresses 
  • Calcium silicate

In the case of cryogenic pipings, it’s common for insulation to be achieved through vacuum-insulated pipelines, which may be reinforced with the addition of other insulating materials.

CTA vacuum insulated piping

Benefits of thermal insulation

  • Energy savings: maintaining cryogenic temperatures involves considerable quantities of energy. The thermal shield’s aim is to avoid the waste of heat energy and reduce its need.
  • More environmentally-friendly: a benefit derived from the energy savings described above.
  • Control of heat temperatures and keeping them in the desired predetermined range.
  • Condensation control.
  • Improved security for human staff: thermal shielding minimizes the risk of serious injuries and burns related to piping that is not well insulated.
  • Acoustic insulation: certain heat shield models and materials provide additional sound attenuation.

Cryospain’s thermal shield pipes

At Cryospain, we are committed to design and produce super-insulated pipes for the transportation of cryogenic materials. As such, we offer our Cryoline pipes where high vacuum and other thermal shield systems are applied to ensure extraordinary performance and durability.

Our cryogenic pipes are designed to transport a wide range of cryogenic substances, including LIN, LOX, LAR, LNG, LHe, and LH2, among others. 

Through the choice of the right thermal shielding system, we help companies access outstandingly efficient pipe systems that avoid the entry of heat and the gasification processes that would ensue. This also translates into avoiding the environmental factors that would otherwise have an impact on the transferring process between cold points.

Keep reading: Why you should choose vacuum insulated pipes

It’s part of our work to design and produce custom piping systems according to each project’s needs. As such, some of our latest success case studies include our Vessel Retrofit, a Bunkering project or the construction of piping for an Air Separation Unit

Other industrial sectors that can benefit from our cryogenic piping systems include the fields of cryobiology, aerospace, food, and transport companies, which are increasingly putting their focus on cryogenics and their possibilities.

Additionally, through our in-house production capacities, we provide all piping components to ensure total coherence in our structures. This includes not only pipes, but also purgers, phase separators, and high tech fast cooling systems.

Cryospain has become the technological partner of multiple companies in need for cryogenic engineering expertise. Today, we have been in charge of designing, manufacturing and installing over 11000 meters of vacuum-insulated pipe systems

Want to learn more about our cryogenic piping systems and the role of thermal shields in obtaining maximum efficiency? Get in touch with our team!

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