Case Study: Duke University Insulating Steam Systems with Pyrogel XTE

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By John Williams

June 23, 2017

Whether in a university, municipality, hospital or factory complex, district energy steam network operators are united in a constant effort to improve system quality and reliability to consistently provide the capacity to meet customer demands.

Duke University is no exception.

Striving to keep systems running at their best, network operators are taking a harder look at their choice of thermal insulation.

Excellent thermal insulation is a key component to maintain steam network quality and capacity. But insulation needs to be able to survive tough environmental and process conditions, including high heat, high humidity, and constant flooding, often in confined and tight spaces. Unfortunately, these conditions are typical in nearly every steam distribution network.

It’s a tall order to fill for many insulations, but not for Pyrogel XTE.

In a case study recently published in Insulation Outlook, Brian Mitchell, a Mechanical Engineer at Duke University talks about the priorities and challenges his steam network faced:

  • Vaults that suffered severe problems whenever it rained
  • Degraded and missing insulation
  • High maintenance costs and overtime spending
  • Challenged to supply steam required by a new state-of-the-art medical center

Brian and his team took a step back and decided on a new approach. They chose to address the fundamental problem with the insulation in their network. Fortunately, they decided to evaluate Pyrogel XTE aerogel blanket insulation in a vault prone to flooding.

(Spoiler alert!) The results were good—so good in fact that Duke has expanded the use of Pyrogel XTE in their steam distribution network. In Mitchell’s words, “we no longer fear the effects of water in our steam network.”

Read more about the success of Pyrogel XTE at Duke University.

If you’re facing similar challenges in your steam distribution network, contact us so we can help.