Thermal management is often discussed in terms of electronic devices, which generate excess heat. Overheating can damage electronics, which means this heat needs to be dissipated. Thermal management systems use a wide range of cooling solutions, including heat sinks, heat pipes, heat exchangers, liquid cooling systems, fans, and phase change materials to keep electronics within their operating temperature range. But what about systems that want to retain heat?
Electronics generate heat as a result of their function. However, many systems actually need heat in order to function. Heat-based appliances and devices work hard to generate power. These heat-based systems can benefit from retaining heat, especially in specific target areas. For these systems, excess heat loss can actually reduce energy efficiency and impair performance, resulting in drained batteries or inflated energy costs.
Heat losses are recognized as some of the most significant causes of efficiency degradation in energy systems.– Energy Storage, 2019
Thermal insulation can help systems improve energy efficiency, improve performance, and reduce energy costs. However, deciding to use insulation is only the beginning. With a wide variety of insulating materials and technologies available, deciding what kind of insulation to use is the next step.
Heat insulation and shielding are just as important to temperature control and thermal management as heat transfer is.– Boyd Corporation
For systems that have a lot of design space to work with, a variety of inexpensive insulation materials may be used. However, for systems that are dealing with complex thermal challenges, more specialized insulation systems may be appropriate. Insulon® is a highly specialized thermal insulation technology that can help solve uniquely challenging thermal issues. The following questions can help you decide if Insulon® might be appropriate for your application.
Is your application space-constrained?
With traditional insulation materials, simply wrapping an additional layer of materials can increase insulation performance. The thicker the layer, the more insulation the material will provide. However, Insulon® is built with proprietary vacuum technology. Convective and conductive heat transfer require a medium to pass through, and vacuum barriers provide thermal insulation by removing the medium (air). Vacuum spaces don’t need to be “thicker” or “wider” to provide insulation. The overall wall thickness of Insulon® parts — including the vacuum space — can be as thin as 0.25mm.
Does your application deal with high temperatures?
Not all vacuum insulation is created equal. Most vacuum insulation systems degrade at high temperatures, and are therefore used exclusively for cryogenic applications. However, Insulon® proprietary vacuum insulation can operate in environments as hot as 1000°C without any significant degradation in performance. High temperature capabilities make Insulon® a valuable thermal management tool for high heat applications such as automotive exhaust systems.
Do you need insulation that can provide structural support?
Most insulation materials are made from foams, fabrics, or other substances with low compressive strength. Insulon® is made from highly durable metals including stainless steel, Inconel, and other alloys. These metal insulators provide a unique solution for applications that require mechanically robust components to withstand pressure, vibration, or other stresses.
Are you concerned about corrosion under insulation (CUI)?
One major point of concern with many insulation materials is the risk of corrosion under insulation (CUI). Insulon® is made from corrosion resistant metals for long term, reliable, low maintenance performance.
Do you need to limit heat transfer due to radiation?
For most applications, reducing heat transfer due to convection and conduction can solve the majority of thermal insulation challenges. However, for advanced applications operating at high temperatures, reducing radiation heat transfer is key. Insulon® parts can be built to incorporate proprietary high temperature multilayer insulation to reduce radiation heat transfer. This multilayer insulation can be installed directly in the vacuum annulus, so radiation protection is already built in.
Our engineers are experts in devising customized insulation solutions based on the intricate needs of your application. We consider all aspects, from component level parameters to system level parameters, with the goal of helping you optimize your product for peak performance.
Thermal energy is a valuable resource. If your system is letting heat escape, you could be wasting time, money, or both.