Using all of our powers for the conservation of energy
Insulation keeps cold things cold and hot things hot. But when heat or cold escapes from insufficiently insulated pipes or structures, so does energy. That’s where energy audits can play a leading role in helping insulation to do its part.
It’s invisible to the naked eye but we cannot live without it. It’s a vital part of our daily health, comfort and wellbeing, whilst driving our progress at the same time. Simply put, energy is the bedrock of our civilisation. That’s exactly why it’s so valuable and needs to be conserved. And one of the main ways we can reduce energy use and preserve this precious resource is through optimised insulation.
Protecting what we value
The principle is relatively simple: energy loss can be reduced by improving the insulation of buildings, pipes, facilities, rooms or houses. In practice, however, the challenge can be finding the source of energy escape and mitigating it accordingly. That’s exactly what KAEFER in Spain has been working on with its clients. By performing detailed audits using cutting-edge thermal visualisation technology, they can identify areas that aren’t optimally insulated and consequently save energy, emissions and money.
“When we conduct an energy efficiency audit, we estimate losses, not used heat flux and we evaluate why a system loses energy,” explains Jesús Carrobles, Commercial Manager at KAEFER Servicios Industriales. “This can be because of bad insulation or lack of insulation. For example, a hot pipeline loses energy though thermal loss, whereas a pipeline that’s too cold and freezes, ends up absorbing energy. We look at all areas to see where efficiencies can be introduced. On top of that, we make detailed checks of existing insulation, looking for condensation that causes corrosion or heat stress to components and systems.”
Sometimes a pipe will look superficially OK, but detailed thermography will expose areas where energy escapes or is absorbed.
The people who perform these audits are highly qualified professionals. Like Marcos Calle, who is part of the KAEFER Insulation Experts Group (Thermal Insulation Community). Anyone can carry a camera, but only an EiiF-certified Tipcheck engineer with at least a level 1 thermography certification, can perform these types of studies. Things may also not always be as they seem. Sometimes a pipe will look superficially OK, but detailed thermography will expose areas where energy escapes or is absorbed. Only a professional with a trained eye and the right specialist equipment can see what others might miss.
A further advantage KAEFER has in this area is a constant presence at many client facilities, thanks to long term commitments and maintenance contracts. That means a proactive approach can be taken and preventive maintenance can be performed, providing further advantages to the client. “We work in partnership with our clients, day in, day out,” Jesús Carrobles adds. “Energy audits allow us to provide even more added value, since most of our clients are keen to improve their systems and become even more efficient. Our advantage is that we are familiar with their facilities and complex infrastructure, which means we know exactly where we can add value.”
Wrapping it all up
Sectors such as chemical processing, oil and gas or metal transformation use a great deal of energy. Generally speaking, investment into insulation usually pays for itself in less than three years. If we can eliminate thermal losses from the pipes that transport gas or the tubes that transport liquids, we can make a great deal of headway towards a more sustainable future. On top of that, regulatory frameworks that apply to emissions and energy consumption are likely to become increasingly strict for many industries. This means that demand for energy audits and the associated measures to improve energy efficiency will continue to grow in Spain as well as across Europe.