Despite the volume of carbon emissions that domestic dwellings contribute to the UK’s environmental footprint, it is actually industrial processes that ultimately present the most onerous conditions for building materials, and insulation in particular. Extremes of temperature and noise levels can exceed those occurring in other sectors by a factor of 10 or more, while the presence of corrosive chemicals, high humidity levels, vibration and other physical phenomena test installations to the limit. Lifetime cost, durability, health & safety, and fire resistance must all be considered.
Not only do installations such as foundries, galvanizing works, refineries, food processing or beverage making facilities, and process engineering lines represent huge capital investments, they also have enormous energy demands, and therefore the potential for significant savings also.
If we consider pipework which might contain hot water, steam or partly processed materials, then maintaining the required temperature, either heated or chilled - over long runs, then the level of energy input can be reduced considerably. In addition to reducing running costs, pipe insulation also serves to protect personnel in the plant from coming into contact with potentially injurious surfaces.
Ductwork and pipework or storage tanks may also need to be protected against a build up of condensation which can considerably increase the rate of corrosion.
Then, fire is an ever present danger to both people and property, with mineral wool being preferred over alternative insulants for its inherent non-combustibility: making it ideal for fire protection applications.
Although many heavy industrial processes have become far more refined over the generations, noise remains a problem in the workplace. Designers therefore seek to employ insulation either to protect the workforce, or to prevent sound break out affecting those who live around the premises concerned. The sound absorption characteristics of mineral wool makes it ideal for such applications.
In addition the flexibility and resistance to physical damage displayed by mineral wool makes it simple to install, readily knitting together at junctions to guard against heat transfer, while remaining robust in what is inevitably a robust working environment where repeated access for maintenance may be necessary.
Further to their familiar products intended for insulating the fabric of a building, MIMA members also produce a variety of specialized products and systems which have been specifically developed to assist industrial and mechanical engineers. These include pre-formed pipe casings, pipe wraps, mineral wool slabs, and larger sections, some featuring mesh reinforcement for greater rigidity.