Microtherm® for the very best energy efficient pipeline insulation

Izoflex®, the very best insulation in 21st century pipeline technology – pipe insulation just does not get any better than this.

In the mid 1990s, two independently successful international companies, ITP InTerPipe and the Microtherm Group decided to cooperate in providing the offshore oil and gas industry with the very best insulated pipeline system. This resulted in a pipe-in-pipe system fitted with a new insulation product: “Izoflex®”, also known as Microtherm® Floppy Panel. Several hundred kilometres of such pipelines have been installed underwater in America, West Africa and Northern Europe, with operating temperatures ranging from -45°C up to 155°C, and with field-demonstrated overall heat transfer coefficients (U-values) as low as 0.35 W/m².K. These subsea pipeline systems are now an industry reference.

ITP InTerPipe with proven flow assurance, design, engineering, fabrication, and project management capabilities in highly insulated pipelines for offshore, is now also developing onshore applications.

The Microtherm Group are the established global market leaders in microporous insulation offering the best performing and most compact thermal insulation solutions. Flexible panels of Microtherm® are used widely for ultra lightweight fire protection systems. They have 40 years experience in a wide range of demanding applications including petrochemical industries and offshore. Power generation and renewable energy supplies, hot metal processing, glass manufacture, furnaces, and all forms of transport benefit from the use of Microtherm®.

Microtherm® is the most efficient high temperature thermal insulation available with a performance that is normally up to four times better (only one quarter the thickness for equivalent performance) than conventional insulation materials at maximum temperatures. Microtherm® has an exceptionally low thermal conductivity (TC) over a wide temperature range from cryogenic temperatures right up to a continuous exposure capability at 1000 °C (1832 °F). It is a better insulator than still air. This is because a microporous insulation is specially formulated to block all aspects of heat transfer including IR radiation. The curve of TC against temperature remains very flat over its full temperature range.

Microtherm® is available in the most versatile product range in the industry including flexible panels and rolls, block and solid panels, and free flowing microporous granules.

The performance of Microtherm® may be further improved by drawing a vacuum. Microtherm® SlimVac panels have a typical thermal conductivity of only 4.5 mW/m.K.

The products are backed up by full design assistance and a comprehensive service and support package for customers. Full information on the Microtherm® range, main applications, and services available can be found elsewhere on this web site.

Thermal conductivity of Microtherm insulation compared to conventional insulating materials

Thermal conductivity of Microtherm insulation compared to conventional insulating materials

The Microtherm Group operates from headquarters in Belgium with additional sites in Japan and the USA. These are backed up by a network of Global Partners ensuring optimised customer support all over the world.

ITP is based both in France and in the USA (Houston).
Further information can be found at www.itp-interpipe.com.

In the early 1990’s ITP identified that energy conservation was a key requirement for the operation of hydrocarbon production systems, especially in the deepwater environments. Heat conservation prevents or minimizes two primary operational issues for subsea oil and gas pipelines: wax deposition and hydrate formation. By using a highly insulated system, subsea wells could be produced with fewer operational problems over longer distances. For cryogenic systems, insulation protects against heat gain preventing or minimizing the main operational issue: boil-off of liquefied gases.

To provide superior energy conservation in subsea pipelines, ITP pioneered the use of microporous insulation materials within a pipe-in-pipe design which further improved Microtherm product thermal performance by a factor of 3 to 4.
This field-proven technique provides actual thermal conductivity between 0.004 and 0.007 W/m.K, translating into excellent U-values between 1 to 0.1 W/m².K (or 0.2 to 0.02 BTU/ft².hr.ºF) with a thickness of only 10 to 40 mm of Izoflex® respectively.

Other applications of ITP’s highly efficient insulation system include:

  • ITP’s EHTF (Electrical Heat Traced Flowline) system incorporating electrical heating. It results in a low power, pipe-in-pipe design for maintaining fluid temperatures even during shutdown conditions. This is useful in preventing hydrate formation or crude oil gelling in hydrocarbon pipelines or preventing sulfur solidification in liquid sulfur pipelines.
  • A pipe-in-pipe system with cool down times to hydrate formation conditions of up to 10 days. This is achieved through the use of a specially selected phase change material.
  • ITP’s cryogenic pipeline systems used to transport fluids such as LPG (-45 ºC) and LNG (-161 ºC) over long distances either onshore or subsea (DNV’s “Certificate of Fitness for Service” in 2007).
  • High temperature pipeline systems used to transport fluids at temperatures in excess of 500 ºC, when combined with suitable inner pipe materials.
  • Downhole applications with small diameter pipes for its sister company MAJUS.
Pipelaying ITP in 1600 m water depth

Pipelaying ITP in 1600 m water depth

All of these systems described above are part of the ITP technology portfolio based upon the original pipe-in-pipe design. They can be installed using various pipelay methods including: J-lay, S-lay, towing and reeling.

ITP also offers a unique field jointing system for J-lay and S-lay installations. This ITP field joint requires only ONE offshore weld which significantly reduces offshore installation time for pipe-in-pipe. Cycle times as low as 4 minutes have been achieved (S-lay in West Africa).

Izoflex® panels are bagged in a cloth that makes them clean to handle and robust enough for the fabrication of the pipeline lengths on remotely located yards with local content. The panel’s Microtherm® microporous core is inorganic and is not subject to aging in a pipe-in-pipe arrangement. The Izoflex® panels wrap around the inner pipe and are accurately sized for the pipe circumference so that they form a perfect layer and effectively block heat leakage. The ITP application procedures and fixing accessories ensure fast assembly times within high quality requirements.

The low thermal conductivity of Izoflex® means that thin panels very easily meet the system U values specified by the Oil & Gas Operators.

With several hundred kilometres of sub-sea pipelines, the ITP / Microtherm cooperation is a proven success. Izoflex® is now the benchmark against which other systems are compared.

Microtherm® - cool answers to hot problems.