During a plant expansion at Wyoming Ethanol, Renova Energy used molded one-piece, semi-rigid blanket and flexible board insulation from Knauf Insulation for its piping and equipment.

Consistent material wall thicknesses ease alignment of the 1000° pipe insulation sections and speed installation.

Driven by oil prices and the environmental consequences of using fossil fuels, the U.S. ethanol industry has grown its production capacity by more than 150 percent since 1999. In Torrington, Wyo., Renova Energy operates a production facility through its subsidiary, Wyoming Ethanol, that contributes 5 million gallons of the fuel each year to the national total.

In mid-2005, Renova broke ground on an expansion to more than double the capacity of the plant, to 12 million gallons per year. To insulate the piping and equipment of the expanded operation, Renova and its construction partners turned to another company whose products save energy and help preserve the environment, Knauf Insulation.

Knauf Insulation was brought to the Wyoming Ethanol project through a partnership between insulation contractor DP Industrial (DPI) and distributor International Technifab. DPI is a fairly new company but its primary partners have decades of experience in the insulation industry. Headquartered in Salt Lake City, the company has expanded rapidly, undertaking projects across Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and beyond. The Wyoming Ethanol expansion is one of the larger and more high-profile jobs tackled by the young firm, so it was important to have partners they could trust.

“The job was specified for fiberglass insulation, which we prefer. It installs faster and lets us be more productive than mineral wool,” said Jim Dunks of DPI. “So we were able to use Knauf insulation through International [Technifab]. That’s great for us, because we feel that Knauf is the best product out there.”

Pipes run outdoors and throughout the uninsulated metal buildings at the manufacturing facility.

For the Wyoming Ethanol expansion, DPI used three Knauf products:
  • 1000° pipe insulation, a molded, heavy-density, one-piece insulation made from inorganic glass fibers bonded with a thermosetting resin.
  • KwikFlex pipe and tank insulation, a 48" wide semi-rigid fiberglass blanket in roll form.
  • Elevated Temperature (ET) board, a lightweight insulation made from inorganic glass fibers bonded with a high-temperature thermosetting resin.
A variety of piping and equipment sizes in the Wyoming Ethanol facility confronted DPI’s crews. Manufacturing ethanol, from corn to fuel, takes the product through a series of processing and holding tanks. At the Torrington facility, these ranged from 1 x 4' to 15 x 45' equipment, with the tallest vessels rising four stories to nearly 80'. Special scaffolding was erected and moved from tank to tank as DPI workers insulated the largest vessels.

Nearly 11,000 linear feet of new piping ran throughout the buildings, between and among the tanks and equipment. During the project, the new pipe and equipment was installed in the existing plant as well as in newly constructed space that expanded the total area of the facility by 40 percent. In many cases, it was more cost-effective to retrofit the new vessels without removing the old, leading to space constraints that challenged installers.

The mix of Knauf products used allowed a smooth installation for all of these circumstances. The 1000° pipe insulation was used for the small and large-bore piping while KwikFlex was used for the smaller and mid-sized vessels. In addition, 15,000 ft2of the board insulation was used for the large tanks.

And, because Wyoming Ethanol continued to produce its green fuel during the expansion, Dan Tobin, project manager for DPI, particularly appreciated that the 1000° product could be installed while the system was in operation, at temperatures up to 1000°F (538°C). Tobin also credited the KwikFlex blanket product with speeding installation. The installers could quickly wrap the product tightly around larger pipes, tanks and irregularly shaped objects, saving time while maintaining the compressive strength and thermal performance of rigid insulation alternatives.

Ingredients and eventually processed ethanol are delivered to tanks at expected temperatures with the help of the molded pipe insulation.

Tobin noted that the product was used for vessels ranging from 2 to 5' dia. “KwikFlex wraps so easily around the smaller diameter tanks. It’s a great labor saver.”

Using Knauf insulation has saved DPI and its construction partners energy on the job site: The products have allowed DPI to work harder and smarter. As the expansion goes online, the Knauf products will start saving energy in another way. Much of the Wyoming Ethanol operation is housed in uninsulated metal buildings, and the operation includes several outdoor holding tanks. Knauf Insulation products will play a critical role in making the facility more energy efficient, especially considering the Wyoming weather, which is marked by sudden changes in temperature, 100°F (38°C) days in the summer and routinely subfreezing temperatures in the winter.

In producing a cleaner, naturally renewable fuel, Renova and Wyoming Ethanol are helping our environment. Knauf Insulation does the same by producing fiberglass insulation products that are saving energy in manufacturing plants. With partners like DPI and International Technifab, Knauf Insulation and Wyoming Ethanol can work towards a common goal: preserving our world’s energy resources. PH

For more information from Knauf Insulation Inc., call (800) 825-4434 or visit www.knaufinsulation.com.