Steam valve jackets are a crucial form of thermal insulation in any industrial facility with complex pipework systems. When water is converted into steam, it is heated to the point that hydrogen bonds breakdown to generate gaseous H2O. This is typically highly pressurized to reduce the carryover of liquid water from the boiler, which in turn reduces the specific volume of the steam. However, “wet” steam is used in certain industrial applications and low-pressure flows may be used when increased latent heat is preferred. Consequently, valves are integrated into pipework systems to perform three primary functions:

  • Flow control;
  • Pressure control;
  • Temperature control.

Although essential for system optimization, steam valves can represent a point of inefficiency and even harm. Leaking valves can cost hundreds of U.S. dollars every single year, while heat diffusion from the interior of the pipe can make the external components of the valve dangerous to touch. High-performance thermal insulation fabrics are often prescribed to resolve issues that are commonly misdiagnosed as malfunctions.

Steam Valve

Thermal Insulation Fabrics: What are Steam Valve Jackets?

Mechanical contractors may install steam valves with no thermal insulation. Performance may not be noticeably inhibited, but this will contribute to consistent and significant energy (kT) loss over time; potentially equivalent to thousands of kilowatt-hours (kWh) per annum. However, the additional upfront cost of separate insulation may concern plant managers, especially when potential energy losses are difficult to quantitatively forecast. Steam valve jackets made from high-temperature thermal insulation fabrics are the ideal solution to this problem.

A steam valve jacket is a form of removable padding that wraps around a valve, insulating any surface areas that may pose a risk of energy loss. They are generally designed to specific valve dimensions to ensure a tight fit and enable easy access to manual throttle controls of head-mount controllers. There is a choice of thermal insulation fabrics available to designers for steam valve jackets, including:

  • HYTEX®

Each of these thermal insulation fabrics provides improved operational efficiency, even for non-permanent systems like removable jackets. The two thermal insulation products that we at Mid-Mountain Materials, Inc. most recommend for insulating steam valves would be CERMEX® and HYTEX®.

Outlining CERMEX® Thermal Insulation

CERMEX® Needled Mats are resilient textiles comprised of high purity glass fibers, which can be laminated with aluminum foil or pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA). It performs exceptionally well as insulation installed between cold and hot side fabrics and boasts outstanding stability after exposure to high temperatures. These properties make CERMEX® Needled Mats the ideal thermal insulation fabric for valve jackets in pipework systems with linear or non-linear flows of steam.

Outlining HYTEX®, ARMATEX®, and SILTEX® Thermal Insulation Fabrics

Hytex1000-2025 AluminizedHYTEX® 1000-2025 is one of our highest performing thermal insulation fabrics, based on high-temperature fiberglass that can withstand continuous temperatures of 538°C (1000°F). It makes an outstanding barrier to heat and is ideal for reducing the transfer of heat from pipes to improve thermal efficiency.  HYTEX® 1000-2025 AL is laminated on one side with aluminum foil for increased heat-resistance, and both are widely used for the fabrication of pipe wrapping, turbine blankets, engine exhaust covers, and removable/reusable insulation blankets and pads.

Used for hot or cold side components, ARMATEX® Coated Fabrics resist external elements like moisture, oil, and chemicals. They also prevent pipe sweating and keep external heat from affecting chilled equipment. Manufactured in a variety of colors for color-coding, matching your environment, or indicating safety hazards, ARMATEX® Coated Fabrics are flexible for ease of sewing and offer protection in extreme environments.

siltex 18The unique properties of SILTEX® SILICA FABRICS make them well suited for use in engineered thermal systems where a high level of heat resistance is required. With a continuous operating temperature of 982°C (1800°F), they are an excellent choice for hot side protection. They also boast high strength and flexibility which makes them suitable for removable thermal insulation systems with enhanced durability. The weave-look finish allows for ease of fabrication and increased abrasion resistance.

All of these thermal insulation fabrics combined with CERMEX® Needled Mats can help you reduce thermal losses in your piping system, offering a value-added solution to valve efficiency issues. If you have any questions about Mid Mountain’s products for use in the fabrication of steam valve jackets, simply contact a member of the team today at [email protected].