Over the years, engineers in the Oil and Gas industry have come to trust Thermal Insulative Coatings for temperature suppression for anything from personnel protection to process temperature stability. Until recently, only acrylic based materials have been available. Now, the next generation of Thermal Insulative Coatings is available in the form of 2-component, water based epoxy technology. Epoxy technology has brought an improvement over acrylic based materials in terms of Adhesion, hardness and tensile strength, among others. These inherent properties have been transformed into successful applications in the oil and gas industry including asphalt carriers, process and production equipment and fuel storage tanks.
The use of insulation in the Oil and Gas industry has been common place for what seems forever. These traditional, older types of insulation can, however, pose limitations in terms of cost effective installation for complex geometries and even large, flat areas. Additionally, keeping standard insulation dry and maintenance free is an ongoing challenge. Wet insulation is not only ineffective but can also lead to corrosion under insulation (CUI) issues. Thermal Insulative Coatings (TICs) apply directly to the steel substrates which minimizes water penetration and greatly reduces the potential for CUI.
Acrylic based TIC became an attractive alternative to some of the limitations found in the use of classic insulation, particularly where worker safety from hot surfaces was an issue. Still, these products are not without their own limitations. The films have weak tensile strength and tend to be soft, not lending themselves to much more than occasional light foot traffic. Additionally, most have limited corrosion resistance and application restrictions; low dry film thickness (DFT) per coat (typically max out around 25 mils), slow recoat times with numerous coats required.
Newer water-based epoxy Thermal Insulative Coating formulations offer superior physical properties and chemical resistance when compared to single component acrylics. The acrylics cure via coalescence and result in a low crosslink density such that dried films tend to be soft which limits activities to only occasional foot traffic. Epoxies are 2-component, reactive systems and cure by both coalescence and chemical reactions resulting in higher film build (40 mils (1 mm) DFT per coat), faster recoat times, a tougher, much higher crosslink density along with naturally better chemical resistance.
Most TIC products are water based and provide similar application conditions. Lower temperature limits for surface conditions are around 50 °F (10 °C) and upper limits are around 250 – 300 °F (121 – 149 °C). Service conditions for both types of TIC run from –60 – 350 °F (-51 – 176 °C). Because of the organic make up of these TIC, they are typically limited to 350 °F (176 °C) service range while traditional insulation goes to 1000 °F (538 °C) and higher.