Insulation, Part 3: Minimizing Fire Hazard Using Mixed Insulation Materials

Insulation is nothing more than a large number of air pockets that are held in place by some type of material. For high-temperature systems pumping combustible liquids, these materials may consist of mineral fibers, compressed particles (calcium silicate or perlite) or cellular glass.

Insulating Hot-Oil Systems, Part 2: Controlling Fire Hazard

Insulation is nothing more than a large number of air pockets that are held in place by some type of material.

Insulation — Specifically, how to prevent essentially non-combustible insulation materials from becoming a fire hazard (part 1)

When designing or maintaining a hot-oil system, one important aspect is thermal insulation; adequate insulation is a necessary evil on these systems.

Even if energy costs were zero, there would still be the need to protect company personnel (especially overzealous young process engineers and nosy visitors from headquarters) from exposure to hot pipes. Not to mention the huge ventilation fans that would be required in the heater room to keep the control panel from melting.


Photograph of insulated pipes

Steel pipes insulated for plain old hot water

Hydrocarbon-based heat transfer fluids present a unique insulating problem because fluid that leaks into the insulation can become a fire hazard. The continued exposure to high temperature inside the insulation and the limited fresh air supply combine to partially oxidize the fluid into very different material.  Autoignition occurs when either—

  1. The molecular rearrangement produces a compound that ignites at the existing temperature and oxygen level.
  2. A sudden increase in oxygen allows ignition as is.

Either way, you’ve got a problem. This phenomenon is similar to the pile of oily rags that spontaneously ignites in the garage.

The next couple of blog postings will focus on how to minimize the fire hazard from insulation.      READ PART II

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4EQP4KFPZ286 and Two Shows in October

Paratherm Corporation is exhibiting at two industrial trade shows this month.
First, on October 13, is the Alternative and Renewable Energy event, a virtual conference and trade show on the ON24 online event platform, presented by Globalspec.
Also in October, on the 19th through the 21st, in Houston, Texas, Paratherm will be exhibiting live at the ChemInnovations Conference and Expo.

Slide Rule of the Month: #1 Relay No. 105

…we are going to be featuring a vintage slide rule occasionally in the Unsubmerged Blog.

No Business Like Show Business

I arrived at the trade show a few minutes after the doors opened; there was a fellow out in the lobby area talking generalities to early arrivals like me. I decided to skip the pep talk and went straight into the exhibit hall.

First I meandered down a couple rows, browsing the booths without stopping in anywhere. Most of the displays were modern, colorful, medium sized, and many featured video screens.

Before heading into any specific booth I scouted the peripheral areas, noting the locations of the conference center, the networking lounge and resource center. I checked the times of the industry presentations, made notes to attend at least one, and picked up a few publications at the resource center, putting them into my briefcase to peruse later.

As the morning passed, I chatted with several people in several of the booths. I learned about their products and how they present their services, exchanged business cards with a few sales reps by noon, threw my name in for several prize drawings (Ipads and Ipod Touches are still popular prizes), and then in the afternoon I spent time in the conference center listening to presentations, and in the networking lounge discussing the presentations, and some web marketing technologies, with other attendees and some of the presenting companies.

Throughout all of this, I was sitting in my office, playing my banjo, and eating Tastycake Butterscotch Krimpets.1 This was a virtual trade show. Actually, the above describes a bit of a hybrid experience, consisting of two virtual events, both on the ON24 presentation platform.

Virtual Trade Show Booth Thumbnail

Booth at Material Handling Show

First was the Material Handling trade show presented July 14 by Globalspec. Lift trucks, conveying equipment, data processing, supply chain, warehouse management topics and software, were all presented and discussed in the booths, in the chat areas, in provided powerpoints and delivered lectures in the virtual auditorium.

The second event I attended was presented by Vocus, the online public relations and marketing software developer. “Retweet: Engagement Means Business” took place July 28, and was more of a virtual conference atmosphere. Social media, web communications, blogging, relationships, Youtube guidelines, explaining Twitter, role of Facebook in B2B… Lots of 2010 marketing-buzz topics were explored, lots of resources discussed.

For both virtual events, the ON24 platform worked. People really did move throughout the environment and partake in all the different offerings much like they would at a live event. I did experience a small technical glitch at one of the events, suddenly finding myself in a virtual “Cone of Silence”2 when all the interactive features simply ceased functioning. Chat attempts and message sends returned only a stony and disquieting noninteractive emptiness. Logging out and back in solved the problem. The presenters were very concerned and responsive about the issue when I later communicated to them about it.

The Virtual Briefcase is where you put stuff you want to look at later. Powerpoints, PDFs, whitepapers, videos, links to web pages and web tools, product specs, etcetera, can be viewed on the spot, or you can click a little briefcase icon to take it all with you to read or view later. If you’ve met somebody you want to exchange contact information with, either in a networking area or a floor booth, you can chat, email, or exchange virtual business cards, with a click of the mouse.

Navigation may take a while to get used to. It does help to thoroughly explore the virtual space in advance, clicking all the links in the interface, to figure out how everything works before you go out and about.

Before you leave (log out), you can visit “My Information” and download all the information in your briefcase, and the contacts you’ve made. They email you a link to a zip file.

Have you ever been on the plane home from an event and thought “I wish I’d had time to hear that session on Chiral Symmetry vs. Specific Rotation with Biomembrane Technology?”3 One great advantage of a virtual trade show is that, in many cases, the presenter archives key parts of the event for attendees, or even new on-demand registrants, to consume later.4

Thumbnail Image of Virtual Auditorium at Online Conference

Virtual Auditorium

Please comment here if you’ve had some interesting experiences or have thoughts about virtual events. Also, if you’d like to discuss any of these topics (web interactivity, B2B social media, process industries, etc.) specifically you can email me here

Paratherm Corporation will be exhibiting at Industrial Processing, a virtual trade show event presented by Globalspec, on Wednesday August 25, 2010 11:30 AM – 6:00 PM EDT (8:30 AM – 3:00 PM PDT). Come chat with us about thermal processing. Register here

The archived version of Vocus’s Retweet conference is available until January 28, 2011 at

Globalspec’s archived events are available for 30 days (usually longer) at

  1. Just kidding about the banjo and krimpets
  2. The Cone of Silence was first seen on Get Smart starring Don AdamsRevived in Rowan Atkinson’s 2003 spoof Johnny English when the cone failed to funny effect.  Scientific American podcasted about the scientific feasibility of the C.O.S. here
  3. Well, I confess I’ve never actually had that specific feeling but I do remember wishing I had been able to squeeze in the Chris Smither performance at a music festival…you get the idea…
  4. In addition to the on-demand archived content, there are no plane rides, no sandwich lines, no stinkin’ (show) badges, no hotel reservations—making the virtual experience valuable, yet perhaps not quite as personal and vibrant as the living, walking, breathing organism.

Unsubmerged Info Post #1

Business Technology is another area we wish to comment upon occasionally in this blog. We will interpret this term broadly. Tools and techniques to enable business objectives? Sounds good to us.