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# 19 lnsulation systems fot low tempercture tanks

## This still continues, with allsides frequently claiming victory. lt is

not unusual for composite systems using PUF for the inner
layers and cellular glass for the outer layer to be specified.
An area where particularcare is needed is in the fitting of insula-

## tion to valves and other fittings.

Infrared thermography discussed in Section 19.10 is a useful
tool for inspecting low temperature pipe insulation systems.
The identification of the causes of failure or lack of longevity of
such pipe insulation systems is not always straightforward. A
refinery in the UK had problems of early breakdown of its carefully installed cellular, glass-based insulation. The cause ofthis
problem was eventuallyhaced to the fact that the workforce fre-

## quently used the larger insulated pipes as walkways to the

more inaccessible parts ofthe site. The brittle cellularglass was

## 19.8 Heat leak calculations

The basis of the heat leak calculations is quite straightforward.
Itisonlyin the detail that the subject becomes a little more interesting. The tank insulation system is divided up into the areas
where similar materials or combinations of materials have been
used. For a typical full containment tank these would be:

.
.
.

installed

## The oerioheral area ofthe tank base

The lower tank wall where thermal orotection has been installed

## 19.8.1 Basic calculation methods

The basic equation to calculate the heatflux through a particular component to be adopted where a slngle insulation material
is used is:
H=k

xAxAT

iL

equ 19.1

where:

H
k

=
=

A =
AT =
L
=

## heat flux through component (W)

thermal conductivity of the insulation material

(W/m'K)
area of component (m2)
hot to cold face temperature range ('K)

equ 19.2

wnere:

U
R1 &
R2 etc

## thermal resistance ofthe various insulation

components (m2'K iV)
- calculated from
equation '19.3 below
equ 19.3

Hence the equation to calculate the heat flux through a multilayer component is:
H=U

xAxAT

equ 19.4

## 396 STORAGE TANKS & EQUIPMENT

The way out of this apparent impasse is to assume a temperature profile for the various interfaces within the system, use this
to calculate the mean temperatures of the individual layers and
this in turn to obtain the k values of the various materials to perform the initial calculation. The results of this calculation allow
the interface temperatures to be recalculated and the k values
to be revised. Asecond calculation is carried out and the results
ofthis allow a further revision of the k values. A couple offurther
iterations should show temperature values at the interfaces
converging and this should be sufficient. Figure 19.23 shows a
numerical example of this Drocess. This is a tedious calculation
to carryoutbyhand and is ideallysuited to Excel spreadsheets.

## 19.8.2 Thermal conductivity values

Initially, the source of the thermal conductivity values (or K values) to be used in the basic calculations is the manufacture's
technical literature. Mosi low temperature tank designers will
produce their own detailed technical specifications for the supply and installation of the different parts of the insulation system. Within such specifications it would be unusual if there were
not some means of confirming the K values of the materials.
This could take the form of regular samples being taken from
the place of production, be this a factory for materials such as
slab stock PU F, PVC foam, cellular glass, glass fibre or mineral
wool, or the construction site for such materials as perlite or site
expanded PUF.

## These samples would be sent to an agreed laboratory where

the K values would be verified at the appropriate temperature
(or range of tem peratures). lt is usual for the eventual owners of
the tank to witness this testing, either themselves or via their
hired engineering or inspection companies. As has been mentioned earlier, the measurement of low temperature insulation
properties is noteasyand should be leftto those skilled and experienced in this work. Note that this testing is usually conducted in air.

## For porous materials such as perlite, glass fibre or mineral

wool, the vapour within which the insulation material is operaf
ing wiil have a significant effect on lts effective K value. Thus the
test results which are based on air as the interstitial gas will
have to be adjusted to account for the presence of a different
gas. This is discussed in Section 19.8.3.
made from different materials, such as is the case for resilient
blankets supported by being impaled on pins, the effective K
valueto be used in the calculations must be adjusted to take account of the short circuiting effect ofthe pins. Asuitable calculation method for making this adjustment is given in section ,q3 of

Reference 19.3.

R=L/K

## insulation material within the multi-layersystem must be known

before the thermal resistance of that layer can be calculated,
and the thermal resistance is required to establish the mean
remperarure.

## Where more than one material is used the following method

taken from section A3 oI Reference 79.3 is used:
U = 1/ (R1+ R2 + R3+.....+Rn)

## l\4ost thermal insulation materials have thermal conductivities

which change with temperature. This is illustrated for cellular
glass by Figure 19.6. Hence the mean temperature of a layer of

## Certain insulation materials have thermal properties which

change with time. PUF used as external insulation may display
an increase in its K value as the original foaming gas within the
cells is progressively replaced byair.ltis importantthatin these
circumstances a suitably aged property is used in the calculation.

## 19.8.3 The influence of different interstitial gases

The various equations which allow the K values of the vapours
ofthe various low temDerature oroducts to be calculated at dif-

## ABumptions for the exercise:

Outer surface tamperature
lnner sutfsoa ternperature
Intef,stltialgas
Installed perlle density
lnstallsd glass fibre dn8ity
Section through wa[:

+40'c

To
Ti

-165 'C
Methane
60 kglm3
24 relm3

Matedal Thickne6s(mm)
600
5
Sleel linet
960
Psdite
240
Glasslibre
10
Inside 90/6 ni inner tank
Outside Concte

Conc|Eie,/perlite
Prlite/gla8s tibre
Glass fibr/product
TRIAL No 1
Calculate K values:
Concrete

Perlite

fibre step

step 3

## Total hat f,ux (tdal 1)

Matedal

Glass fib|e

148
108

313.0000

310.256

313,0000

310.7349

174,7136 174.5*1
108,0000 108-0000

## value Themalresistance(rn2 "K iv) AT

2.0985
1.6
0.3750
600
960 0.0401584 23.9054 133.771407
6S.1301
240 0.0194273 12.3538
36.6341
m5.0000
Total

Thidmess (mm) K

ConaGte
Perlite

Figure

3{X}

KS1
8.252384i|
R
y
0.137422
0.0401584 Wm'K
Kp
calculate K value of interstitial gas (lQ2)
40'K
ATfg
0.0133521 dm"K
l{gz
fuctor ftom Figure 19.25
1.455
f
calculale K value of glass fibr
0-0194273
Kg

FlI(

3'13.0000
310.C015
117.1301
108.0000

313

step 2

Heat

CK)

## Taken as 1.60 Wm'K tiroughout calqiation

calculate K value of hterstitial gas (f1)
155 'K
ATp
0.0243158 w,lm'K

step l

step 2

Gla6s

h thermalcalculation

lgnore in thermalcahulalion

40
30
-125
-'165

Air/concrelg

'

lgnor

(dmz)

5.5959

## 9.23 An sxample of a multilayer ln6ulation @mponent cslcllation - page

t
STORAGE TANKS & EQUIFII'ENT 397

## 19 lnsulation systems for low temperdturc tanks

TRIAL No 2
Calcxrlate K values:

Concrets

Pedite

step

## Taken as 1.60 Wm'K thrcughout calculation

calculate K value of intersfital gas (lg1)

ATp
133.7714'K
Kgl
0.0266994 w/m'K
calculale K value of pertite (Kp)
R
7.87Tt517
y
0.1374?2.
Kp
o.o428oa w/m'K
calculale K value of inteGfitial gas (Kg2)
Arfu
69.1901 'K
Kg2
0.01499s6 w/m'K
factor from Figure 9.2S
t
1.455
calculate K value of glass fibre
Kfs
0.0218187

stp 2

Glass

fib|

.l

step

step 2

step 3

Material
Concret
Perlfte
cfass fibr6

Heat Ftux

## Kvalue Thermal resistance(mr.XLn) at

600
1.8
0.3750
2,2744
960 0.042808 22-4287 136.012036
240 O.O21B|B7 10.999g
66.7,13
Toiat
\$.9005
208.0000

Thlckness (mm)

(dmz)

6.0650

TRIAL No 3
Calculale K values:

Conqeie

Pedite

step

## Taken as 1.60 w/m'K throughout clculalion

calculate K value ot interstitiat gas (Kg1)

ATp
136.0i20 'K
lQl
0.0285485 w/m'K
calculate K value of pedite (Kp)
R
7.9020321
y
0.137422.
Kp
0.0426242 wtm'K
calculale K value of interstitial gas (Kg2)
ATfs
66.7136 'K
Kg2
0.0148s87 dm'K

step 2

Glass

fibr step

step 2

## factor from Figure 1 9.25

1.455
calculate K value of glass jibre

step 3

Kfg

0.02i6194

Matedal
Concrete
pedite
Glass fibre

## Kvalue The.malresistance(flf "tgu/) AT

600
1.6
0.3750
2.2611
960 0.0426242 Z2.Sn4
135.8027i18
240 0.0216194 11.'1011
66.936.1

Thickness (mm)

Total
Hat Flux

(dm2)

6.0297

33.9986

205.0000

## 'efent temperatures are given in Figure '19.24. The source of

tis data is Reference 19.4.

o.oos6r

u'"tito'Lt'Jli
5

9l7 t 1o'

lT'l''

nT

.-,e6rr,

t'

lr

rrr,.1-."""
\Ttll

--

^T

## The actual maximum temperatures to which the tank roof and

walls will be subjected influenced by the local solar radiation
maximum levels, the attitude ofthe surface in question, the prevailing weatherconditions (clear orcloudy skies)and the nature
of the external surfaces. Data and calculation methods allowing
the actual maximum temperatures to be calculated for any set
of circumstances are given in section AG ot Reference 19 3

uuttilo'[t.ll'
o.oorot .
I 258'10

)r'

-i--L'r',

## level. Purchasing expensive energy, be it electrical, steam

or heated brine to boil off more product than is necessary
incurring further costs in terms of re-liquefaction or product
loss to atmosphere is clearly a nonsense. Consequently a
design hot face value as low as possible is used. -5 'C is a
not unusualvalue to use in the calculations in these circumstances.

T,-T, fK)

g u

## For tanks built on the ground, the hot face temperature is

based on the operational settings of the base heating control system. lt is clearly unwise to have the base heating

Tl

## The design specification will require a certain maximum heat

leak into the tank contents as described in Section 19.7 Ofren
the only data given is the maximum design ambient temperature, which is a shade temperature at the tank's geographic loca on.

o oorou

T+12CK)

ifferent

## Forcalculating the Kvalue ofperlite with the air replaced byone

cf these gases at a particular set oftemperature conditions, the
'ollowino formula can be used:

xo=Kn(-v)+

/^,+o-1f

equ 19.5

## For tanks built on elevated foundations, a hot face design

temperature equal to the maximum shade temperature
would seem to be a sensible choice. There is perhaps a
case for using a lower temperature. Experience suggests
that the space beneath the base slab of such tanks is a cold
place to be, even on hot days.

vhere:

Kp =

## thermal conductivity of perlite in the replace'

ment interstitial gas (Wm 'K)

Ks =

## thermal conductivity of the interstitial gasatthe

appropriate temPerature (Wm "K)

R" =
y
=
p
=

## Acommon wayforthe tank maximum heat leakto be specifled

to the tank and insulation system designer is to express it in
terms of the escape to atmosphere of a percentage of the full

3.9x10'3xp087

tank contents perday. Hence for a large LNG tank we may see:

## For calculating the K value of glass fibre or mineral wool, the

graph shown in Figure 19.25 can be used.
(Both equation 19.5 and Figure '19.25 are attributed to the late

## 19.8.5 Overall heat leak

"The maximum heat leak shall not exceed 0.05% of the full
tank contents per day on the assumption that the tank contents are considered to be pure methane."
The latter requirement to consider the tank contents as a pure
product is to avoid the complication of working out the latent
heat ofthe LNG which may have a range ofcompositions and to

## lhermal conduclivity glass fibre

gas
= factor x average conductivity of

## avoid subsequent contentious arguments. lt is normal to make

the same form of wording for any tank containing a mixed product, expressing the permitted heat leak in terms ofa percentage
ofthe major constituent. The following points are worth bearing
in mind:

## lt may be necessaryto run the in-tank pumps during the test

period to ensure proper mixing. Allowance for the energy inout from this source must be made.

## Boil off is known not to occur at a uniform rate, but rather as

a series of irregular "burps". This is another reason why the

## the permitted heat leak. For LNG a latent heat of 507.0

kJ/kg should be used with the pure methane density of
0.422. Using the design density of LNG (frequently given as
0.48) will give too high a value of the permitted heat leak.

## Arrangements must be made to record and take account of

the effects of wind and solar radiation.

## These difficulties combine to make a physical heat leak test

time consuming, expensive and inconclusive. To avoid this

## lt is often presumed that the worst conditions pertaining at

any point on the tank outer surface at any time during the
whole day will persist for the full 24 hours. This has occasionally become a point of dispute beh,veen the owner and
the designer, with the tank designer claiming that it represents an unnecessarily conservative interpretation.

## problem area, the following procedure is often adopted:

The tank designer must prepare detailed heat leak calculations together with the appropriate certification (and possibly QA records if these are available at the time) to
demonstrate that the materials used havethe required thermal properties.

The full tank contents is usually taken to mean just that, i.e.
with no deduction for in-tank pump NPSH etc.

## Whilst the calculations seek to cover all of the sources of

possible heat leakage from tank to atmosphere, there will

## These calculations and the associated documentation will

be submitted to an expert third party, previously agreed by
both the owner and the tank contractor, who would review
the calculations and whose findings would be binding on
both parties.

## probably be some which have been ignored or overlooked

such as the smaller connected pipe connections. To cover
for these uncertainties, it is usual for the designer to aim for
a calculated heat leak lower than the full target value. A not
unusual starting point would be to aim for 85% of the full
value in the first instance.

A well

## set out heat leak calculation for a large full containment

type LNG tank is shown in Figure 19.26. This makes use of a

## 19.9 Heat leak testing

With the customer or his engineer setting a heat leakage requirement for the tank and the distinct possibility that at least
some of the process equipment will be designed based on this
figure, it would seem sensible to test the finished storage system to see that it fullllls this performance criteria. This is not as
simple as it would appear for a variety of reasons:

.
.
.

## lvleasuring the heat leak will require either a significant

change in the tank liquid level to occur, which may take

An infrared camera will produce images which will identify areas where the heat leak is abnormal or merelydifferentfrom the
surrounding areas of insulation. lt is a useful tool both at the
time of tank commissioning and as an occasional maintenance
device to locate any changes in the thermal insulation system
and its performance, perhaps due to such time dependent phenomena as insulation material degradation or perlite settlement. The equipment is nowadays quite cheap to purchase, or
there are companies who will come and perform this service.

## Insulation problems from the past

and their lessons

The tank must be fullor close to full at the time of the test to
avoid contentious arguments revolving around the extrapolation ofthe heat leakfrom a lowerliquid levelto a fulltank.

service.

The tank must not be subject to any liquid movements during the test period.

## The test must be carried out at a time when barometric

Ambient temperature must be monitored throughout the
test period.

## 19.10 The use of the infrared camera

some days depending upon the accuracy ofthe level measuring equipment provided, or will require the accurate
measurement of the vapour flow through the vapour outlet
line, something difficult and expensive to achieve. Vapour
flow measurement is not a normal part of the tank instrumentation. For a large LNG tank with a specified boil off rate
of less than 0.05% (a typical figure for such tanks) the level
change will be of the order of 15 mm/day. To get a sensible
measurement which will be sufiicient to negate any uncertainty caused by tolerances on gauging accuracy, it is clear
that the test duration must run into several days.

## One of the added advantages of this procedure is that in the

event of a shortfall being found in the thermal insulation provided, then this can be made good prior to the tank entering service. This could perhaps be by a simple addition to the thickness ofthe insulation on the suspended deck, an action with no
knock-on effects. With the physicaltest route, this pre-commissioning adjustment is not possible.

## For LNG LPG and other mixed products, it is necessary to

determine the composition of the liquid in the tank. This will
require sampling as the iank is filled.

19.1 1

## 19.11.'l Base insulation failure

Two LNG tanks belonging to GAZ Metropolitan in lMontreal,
1990, when instrumentation in the tank base ofone of the tanks
began to show evidence of cold spots. After double checking
and adding new thermocouples, the problem persisted and it

## became obvious that the tank required to be taken out of

Following decommissioning it was found that the cellular glass
base insulation was the subject of massive cracking and mechanical breakdown.
This damage eventually necessitated the lifting ofthe innertank
andthe complete replacement of the cellularglass base insula-

## An investigation into the cause of this base insulation failure

was carried out and this is reported in Reference 19.5.
The investigation revealed that in July 1990, blasting work had
been carried out within 200 m ofthe two tanks. The tank nearest
to the blasting was full of Iiquid at the time and undamaged. The
tankfurthest awayfrom the blasting location was fllled to 20% of

## 19 lnsulation systems for low tempenture tanks

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STORAGE TANKS & EQUIPMENT 401

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## 406 STORAGE TANKS & EOUIPMENT

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## 408 STORAGE TANKS & EQUIPMENT

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Figufe 19.26 A typ cal heat leak calculation for a Lafge LNG tank - page

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19

## :s capacity and was damaged as described. The investigation

:ound that the partiallyfilled tank had a higher natural frequency

## Exposed to frequent waterfall events, due to concentrated

rainfall from the roof and shell.

:han the fuller tank and was thus more susceptible to damage
iom the blasfinduced ground motions.
-lhe
lesson from this incident is clearly that any blasting on the
same, or adjacentsites should be avoided, and ifthis is not possible, then detailed investigations should be carried out to deiermine the susceptibility of tanks with brittle base insulation
naierials to damage.

anchors.

## The correct selection of materials, detailed design and

careful installation together with regular inspection all have
their part to play in this area.

19.1 1.4

Perlite settlement

## 19.11.2 External vapour sealing

A number of low temoerature tanks with external thermal insuation on their shells, and in some cases also on their roofs,
rave come to grief over the years. The reasons for these failJres are usually associated with poor performance of their ex:ernal vapour sealing arrangements. This has allowed moisiure-laden air to invade the insulation material and form ice
/vithin the insulation or on the tank shell beneath the insulation.
The damage can manifest itself immediately following the tank
cool down or following several years in service.

## Higher than anticipated heat in leak and consequent product

Soiloff, the appearance of external condensation orofice spots
or (in at least one case) sudden failure and collapse ofallor part
of the shell insulation are the usual signs.

The lesson here is that the external vapour seal and its
ong-term abilityto keep atmospheric moisture out ofthe insulation material is viialto the survival ofthe insulation system. Corr.ect material selection, sDecification and installation are all aclivities, which will help to ensure that the required performance
and service life are obtained.

## 19,11.3 Bottom corners

The bottom corner of tanks where the wall insulation is on the
outer surface ofthe shell and the base insulation is beneath the
iank bottom, have on occasions given rise to problems. Again,
the cause is moisture ingress and the reason is poorwaterand
vapour sealing materials and details. This is a difficult area of
the insulation system to design for, for a number of reasons:

## Large radial thermal movements caused by tank contraction.

High shell line loadings, requiring materials with good, mechanical and thermal DroDerties.

## Double walled tianks using perlite insulation have on occasions

had a history of poor performance. Aring of condensation orice
at. or close to the top ofthe outer shell, is an indication of excessive perlite settlement. The reasons for this can be:

## Lack of, or inadequate, or ineffective vibration ofthe perlite

during its site expansion and insiallation.

## The provision of insufficient hoppervolume atthe top corner

of the tank.

On at least one occasion, the location of a large diesel-powered generatoradjacentto the tank following perlite installa-

tion.
The use of experienced perlite installation companies using ap-

propriate methods and equipment will help to avoid this problem and its solution, expensive in service topping up of the
perlite.

19.12 References

19.1

19.2

## Research into the structural integrity of LNG tanks,

D. Neville and G. White, British Gas Engineering Research Station. LNG 9. October 1989.

19.3

## The lnternational Heating and Ventilating Guide,

Chartered Institution of Building Services.

fhe
J.G.

19.5