Near-record energy prices are driving many companies to consider more thermally efficient insulating and refractory materials to reduce heat loss and cut energy consumption.
Predicted higher worldwide demand for oil through 2020 combined with higher near-term oil prices and reduced oil output in the Middle East are driving energy-intensive industries that use high-temperature processing equipment to review the efficiency of refractory and insulating systems in these units. Thermal-processing equipment still is often lined with dense castables or conventional firebrick, which have poor insulating qualities. Many of these heavy linings offer long life and good resistance to chemical attack, but they also function as heat sinks, absorbing thermal energy to heat the lining itself. Moreover, they have a high thermal conductivity, which leads to excessive heat loss through the lining. Therefore, there is increased interest in upgrading furnace linings in the ferrous and nonferrous metals industries to products that deliver better energy efficiency in thermal processing equipment such as continuous heat treating furnaces (figure 1), steel reheat furnaces (slab and roller hearth) and rotary forge furnaces. Many energy-saving options are available.