Resiliency, Steam Distribution Networks, and Pyrogel

By John Williams

March 29, 2017

It seems fitting that we exhibited at NACE Corrosion 2017 in New Orleans, a city that’s faced so many challenges due to water—one of the key ingredients to the corrosion process.  While corrosion and the prevention of it is a major topic we also recognize the value of resiliency and using Pyrogel aerogel blanket insulation to “keep it dry.”

Merriam-Webster defines resiliency as a person’s ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. It’s also the power or ability of an object to return to the original form after being subjected to physical forces. Both of these definitions are exemplified in New Orleans—both in terms of its people and its infrastructure. Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the city has worked hard to bounce back and learn from the events of the past to be prepared for future adversity.

If you want to see that resiliency for yourself, watch this excellent video posted by Veolia.

(After watching this, are you looking at your own life and livelihood and wondering how well you’re prepared?  We are, too.)

Part of the resiliency mindset to be better prepared—whether you’re an individual, a city, or as we’ve come to know quite well, a steam network operator.

Why are steam network operators worried about resiliency? On a daily basis, they face challenges due to rain, snow, storms, flooding, even humidity and condensation. These naturally occurring events can cause a lot of damage, which is why much thought and effort goes into mitigating it—and that includes evaluating their choice of insulation.

The role of insulation in a resilient Network

The number one goal of a distribution network is to deliver steam safely, consistently, and economically. But when water gets into steam tunnels, vaults and trenches, it saturates insulation and causes problems, including corrosion, inefficient steam quality, and safety concerns.

Network operators cannot prevent water from getting in, but they can work to be better prepared for the inevitable. That’s why more and more steam network operators are relying on Pyrogel XTE aerogel blanket insulation to empower resilient distribution networks.

Pyrogel XTE and the Three Components of Resiliency


In order to work toward resiliency, your insulation needs to simply survive the adverse event.

Pyrogel XTE can survive wet service, including floods and natural disasters—it stays intact and on the pipes. It’s durable and water resistant. On the contrary, conventional insulation found in steam distribution networks (for instance, calcium silicate or mineral wool) quickly degrade from harsh conditions associated with wet service.

Reducing Damage

Pyrogel XTE survives water related events without the ripple effect of damage.

Conventional insulations also absorb and trap water, holding it in direct contact against the pipe and equipment. Prolonged exposure to wet insulation can speed up the corrosion process, damaging the system’s infrastructure and adding to maintenance costs.

In addition to corrosion, wet insulation can also lead to inconsistent process performance and steam quality, as well as safety concerns.

Unfortunately, replacing wet or degraded insulation promptly isn’t always feasible due to budgets and maintenance schedules. Boosting system resiliency, however, lessens these concerns. If you don’t have to replace anything, you don’t have to worry about time or money spent.

Faster Recovery

Steam distribution systems that constantly fight against water need to bounce back from water-related events as fast as possible—customers rely on it; economics and safety demands it.

Pyrogel XTE users get their systems back to normal much quicker due to the breathability of Pyrogel XTE. Water that gets into the insulation gets out faster. Faster dry-out means distribution systems gets back to normal much quicker.

The Pyrogel Advantage

As New Orleans can attest, you can’t control water. You can, however, be prepared for it .  Using Pyrogel XTE in your steam distribution network will boost your system resiliency, leading to a system that isn’t crippled by water.

Discover More Pyrogel Advantages in Steam Networks