January 2017

Embracing the Change to Pre-Insulated Pipe Supports

Pre-Insulated pipe supports are an ideal solution and provide maximum efficiency on a pipeline when you are looking to isolate the pipe from the outside structure. They offer an immediate thermal break and eliminate "radiator fin" heat loss through the base. They also help to keep BTU's in or out of the pipe depending on the temperature of the service.

When utilizing uninsulated pipe supports that weld directly to the pipe or clamp directly to the pipe, there is sometimes significant heat loss into the atmosphere that also affects the support directly and the surrounding area. This is shown in the photographs below with the snow melting around the supports and also reflected in the thermal analysis performed on the pipeline.

Our research and development team performed a test on a pre-insulated pipe support, weld-on shoe, and clamp-on shoe in a shop environment at approximately 75-80 degrees F. The test was performed in a calm environment with no wind. Wind across a piping system, and especially the welded support, will significantly affect the heat loss and energy usage. The images below show the thermal loss across the various types of supports. The pre-insulated supports minimized the loss of BTU's at the support thereby proving to be much more efficient.

On the pre-insulated support, the pipe is totally isolated by insulation from the outside of the support and the environment. The weld-on and clamp-on supports do not have any thermal break between the pipe and the outside of the support thereby acting as a radiator fin, proving to be very inefficient.

Thermal Analysis of Pipe Supports

Installing weld-on supports proves to be costly with expensive labor rates to weld and time consuming welding and additional quality control time. It also requires extensive labor to trim insulation and jacket around the steel ribs. Another option besides pre-insulated pipe supports is to insulate entire sections of the pipeline prior to installation using the modular approach.

Benefits of Pre-Assembled Pipelines:

  • Ability to pre-install offsite - minimizing laydown space issues
  • Pipe system can be pre-assembled prior to project start-up
  • Efficient pre-installation reduces labor time improving project schedule
  • Safe pre-installation at waist high conditions
  • Very efficient on straight piping runs using up to 80 foot long sections of pipe
  • Proven cost savings

Additional benefits to pre-insulated pipe supports include the prevention of corrosion under insulation. Since the pre-insulated pipe supports totally isolate the pipe from the outside structure, CUI is greatly minimized. Pre-insulated pipe supports can also include a sealed vapor barrier system for cold applications to eliminate condensation on the pipe.