Full speed ahead – with Kaiflex insulation materials also in the shipping industry

Smooth-running processes are of the utmost importance for applications on the high seas.

Cruise liners, mega yachts, container ships, cargo vessels, frigates, submarines and drilling platforms have extensive mechanical systems. They need to withstand the toughest stresses and strains that can only be found in a maritime environment. Modern cruise liners for up to 10,000 passengers and FPSO (floating production storage and offloading unit) ships for the offshore extraction, storage and loading of oil and gas are also more sophisticated in terms of their facilities than almost any hotel or production plant on land.

All kinds of energy services are in place, from space heating and air conditioning to comprehensive cooling systems for the storage of food items or for chilling drinking water on board the ship. Operational facilities at sea are faced with similar challenges as on dry land with regard to technical insulation. However, the tough maritime environment exacerbates the effects: high humidity and the resulting corrosion affect systems and materials. In addition, there are high demands in terms of the environmental impact and – above all – fire prevention.

Insulation material, insulation thickness and installation need to be right

In order to ensure maximum safety, it is not just a matter of having suitable insulation material in place – the thickness of the insulation and the quality of the installation are also crucial. If these three elements are not coordinated, system performance can deteriorate significantly in a relatively short period of time.

What to consider when choosing insulation material:

Insulation materials on passenger, military, cargo or transport ships need to meet extremely high requirements. On intercontinental crossings, they need to cope with freezing temperatures in Nordic waters and with tropical environmental conditions within a short space of time, all without losing their insulating ability. The insulation materials need to work as effectively in hot and damp/moist conditions (e.g. ships’ galleys) as they do when exposed to aggressive operating materials in the engine room. In the technical insulation of on-board systems that are continuously in operation and which carry liquids that are chilled (fresh water) or extremely cold (refrigerant and liquefied gas), particular attention must also be paid to ensure that no condensation or corrosion forms on surfaces.


In addition, fire and personal safety measures are also of vital importance due to the often limited options and delays that can occur in rescue situations. The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) stipulates that, for the technical insulation of marine applications, preferred insulation materials should be used that have s2 classification, offering maximum fire protection. They should also be free of halogens and PVC. The latter guarantees low opacity and aggressiveness of the fumes emitted during the combustion phase – thus creating favourable conditions to ensure people can locate escape routes more easily if a fire breaks out on board, and chlorine gas poisoning can be avoided.


Kaimann – special solutions for use in water-borne vehicles

Based on these diverse requirements, Kaimann has developed a suitable system that is optimally adapted for the shipbuilding industry and offshore installations. The result: Kaiflex HFplus s2 combined with Kaiflex HFplus Alu-NET SK, a highly flexible foam based on synthetic rubber with an aluminium functional coating that reliably protects against mechanical damage. The insulation material is s2 classified and is also free of halogens. The Kaiflex insulation system thus meets the strict requirements of SOLAS.

The closed-cell structure of the synthetic rubber insulation material also makes it particularly suitable for thermal insulation on ships. Thanks to the low thermal conductivity up to λ ≤ 0.040 W/(m·K) by 0 °C, the medium to be cooled remains at a constant low temperature; it is not heated up by a higher ambient temperature. At the same time, the insulation system protects against condensation on the pipe surface and thus against rust and corrosion. As a closed-cell insulation material, it already provides an integrated ‘water vapour barrier’, i.e. it is resistant to moisture. Kaiflex HFplus Alu-NET SK has an extremely high water vapour diffusion resistance of μ ≥30,000, which enables system performance to be maintained in the long term.

The high level of flexibility and adaptability of this system proves to be a huge advantage particularly in cramped installation locations and for complex, closely integrated plant components, which are found as standard in water-borne vehicles. Kaiflex HFplus Alu Net SK is available in the new Kaimann size of 1.20 m in an insulation thickness of 3 mm. It is therefore ideal for both initial installations and for conversions. Due to the coating, the insulation material is also easy to clean, which is very important especially for water-borne vehicles.


What to consider when choosing the insulation thickness:

To be able to calculate the correct minimum thickness of the insulation material as a first step, several basic parameters need to be taken into account. Some of these parameters are more critical than others – they can have a significant impact on the insulating performance of the technical insulation and its service/operating life. Some of the parameters – which need to be taken into account when calculating the insulation thickness – relate to the structure of the material to be insulated (pipes, drains, tanks, etc.), the type of material used (steel, iron, etc.), the dimensions of the material to be insulated and type of the medium and its temperature. Other parameters are the surrounding environmental conditions, such as the ambient temperature, humidity, position of the components (vertical, horizontal), the provision of a surface coating where applicable, the position of the components (exterior, interior, upper areas, etc.), the space between the components, room ventilation and individual components.

What to consider for the installation:

Compared to standard FEF, halogen-free materials are more sensitive and not as mechanically stable. Therefore, some special factors need to be taken into account during processing, as set out in our processing guidelines.

Generally, for sealing all the joints between insulation and metal (pipes or other components of the system), it is necessary to use the specific adhesive recommended by the insulation material manufacturer. The abutting edges will be perfectly sealed using the Kaiflex 494HHF special adhesive. If the adhesive is applied correctly, it is not necessary to use ties or coatings. However, if these are required for protective or aesthetic reasons, ties and coatings should only be applied 24 to 36 hours after the adhesive has been applied.