Insulation is also meant to reduce the transfer of thermal heat, vibrations, and noise in and around the ship or offshore rig. Traditionally, marine insulation used cork-based products and mineral wool insulating products.
However, there have been many advancements in material science over the past several years. For example, the introduction of fiberglass-based insulation materials, polyurethane-based materials, aluminum-based insulation materials and much more.
Modern and advanced materials offer high-quality insulation properties while at the same time offering better weight performance.
Modern insulation materials are also designed to meet the rules and regulations set by the International Maritime Organization. These rules dictate thermal, fire, and noise insulation.
Marine insulation is not the standard industrial commercial insulation you’d find in a concrete or metal building.
A distinguishing characteristic of marine insulation products is its ability to withstand humidity and water. Marine insulating material should not be affected by water, especially salt water.
By default, sea ferrying vessels are exposed to a lot of water and humidity. Water and humidity can be directly responsible for the deterioration of a number of materials insulations included. As such, unlike commercial and residential insulation, marine insulation solutions pay a lot more attention to resistance to water-induced deterioration.
Another way in which industrial and marine insulation differs is how marine insulation can play more than one role. Marine insulators should yield thermal, fire, and acoustic insulation to be effective. Marine insulators have superior thermal and acoustical performance, and can also provide noise control.
Typically, with residential and commercial insulators, their main focus is to offer effective thermal insulation with some level of fire insulation within a building envelope. However, in the marine environment, the insulating material should insulate against fire, thermal heat, and acoustic to be effective.
For this particular application, incombustible insulators are used owing to their fire resistance performance. Drilling rigs, merchant ships, and naval vessels are susceptible to disaster in case of a fire outbreak.
Noncombustible insulators and other fire stops are used to reduce the risk of fire spreading from one end of the vessel to the other. Some of the insulation products used for this application include stone-wool and fiber-glass insulators.
Thermal insulation is used to reduce the transfer of heat between the object of interest and the outside environment. In the case of marine application, it involves keeping the searing heat from radiating into the vessel or structure. In the case of commercial and naval vessels, the personnel quarters are insulated to create a more habitable environment.
Container shipping vessels use thermal insulation to maintain cold temperatures. Containers that contain products that need chilling or deep freezing are insulated to reduce heat transfer.
Insulating pipes and air conditioning ducts involves making the pipes and air ducts inherently insulating even before making additional steps. For instance, air ducts and pipes that carry temperature-sensitive air masses such as conditioned air are typically coated with aluminum foil. An additional layer of fiberglass cloth is applied thereafter for thermal and condensation insulation.
Alternatively, pipes that carry hot fluids are made to withstand higher temperatures. For example, the steam line or the chimney, which vents exhaust hot air from the engine. For instance, such air ducts and pipes are made using stainless steel which has a higher resistance to high temperatures. Thereafter mineral wool can be applied on the ducts and vents for even more insulation.
Marine insulation also involves acoustic insulation. Sound vibrations spreading across a vessel can create a number of issues. Not only is it uncomfortable for personnel working and living on a vessel, but it can also cause structural problems.
Moreover, there are limits to the noise and vibration transmissions as set under the ISO standard 6954. With this in mind, efforts are made to insulate the noise produced by the engine and its components, whether electrical, diesel or turbine.