The utilidor at Fort Wainwright that housed the cold water pipes also housed steam pipes that were running right alongside them, which was why the buildings on base were having a hard time getting cold water. They were also losing a lot of energy from uninsulated steam pipes, but the cold water was the most immediate problem.
Traditional insulation was not a good option because it was too bulky for the confined space and it caused corrosion of the pipes. Corrosion Under Insulation (CUI) happens when moisture is trapped beneath fiberglass, mineral wool, or similar types of insulation, and it is very costly and dangerous. It can also tend to happen more easily when piping is either buried or housed in underground tunnels and not seen every day.
The government contractor working on the issue suggested INI High Heat thermal insulation coating as a way to insulate the steam pipes and cold water pipes and prevent corrosion with the same product, without taking up valuable space. The thin film insulation acting as a pipe insulation coating provided:
- Spray on application
- Can be applied while pipes were in service
- Pipe insulation for both hot and cold surfaces
- Thin film insulation that can also prevent corrosion
- Water-based, eco-friendly insulation coating
- Lasts 5-10 years without degrading
- Saves energy and has short payback period (typically 6-18 months)
The thin film insulation coating was spray applied as pipe insulation to the steam pipes and cold water pipes and exceeded expectations for pipe insulation. Thermal imaging was taken over a section of steam pipe to illustrate the performance. A thin three-coat coverage of the Heat Shield High Heat insulation coating provided a 68F difference on steam pipes, reducing the temperature from approximately 301F (149.5C) down to approximately 233.1F (111.72C).
The coating also provided the same insulation for the cold water pipes. It allowed cold water to be delivered to the homes and buildings on base without the steam causing it to be warm. Energy was also saved from reducing the heat loss from the steam pipes and maintenance costs were reduced because the coating prevents corrosion too.