Sie sind auf Seite 1von 11

Maintaining uniform surface temperature along pipes by insulation

Ahmet Z. Sahin
*
, Muammer Kalyon
Mechanical Engineering Department, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals,
Dhahran 31261, Saudi Arabia
Received 1 July 2003
Abstract
An analytical solution is obtained for the insulation thickness variation over a pipe to maintain a uniform outer
surface temperature. A high temperature uid is considered to be owing through the pipe. The amount of the
insulation material is assumed to be limited. Heat transfer from the outer surface of the pipe is through convection
and radiation. The solution of the insulation thickness is found to be independent from the outer surface convective
and radiative heat transfer coefcients. In addition, the solution is found to be very close to linear variation which is
very easy to implement in practice.
q 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
There are three major considerations in determining insulation type and thickness. These are
economics, safety and control of process conditions. Insulation can be used to save considerable amount
of energy, protect people and living things from injury, protect delicate equipment, and regulate process
temperatures. Pipes that are accessible by workers and other people are subject to safety constraints.
Therefore, insulation type and thickness should be selected such that the outside temperature of the
insulation is kept below about 60 8C in order to avoid injury.
In the case of cryogenic applications, designing insulation thickness to prevent condensation on cold
lines may become important. In this case, it is crucial that sufcient insulation is added so that the outer
temperature of the insulation remains above the dew point temperature in order to prevent moisture in
0360-5442/$ - see front matter q 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.energy.2004.05.020
Energy 30 (2005) 637647
www.elsevier.com/locate/energy
* Corresponding author. Fax: C966-3-860-2949.
E-mail address: azsahin@kfupm.edu.sa (A.Z. Sahin).
the air to condense onto the insulation and therefore cause damage to the insulation and to form a
suitable environment for micro-organisms to grow.
Energy conservation is one of the major concerns in many industrial applications. In this regard, the
supply of insulation material, in general, has limitations due to its cost, weight and volume. The cost of
purchase, installation and maintenance can often be expensive. The weight and volume of the insulation
material is required to be minimal in some cases such as aerospace applications. Thus, it is necessary
Nomenclature
C
p
specic heat (kJ/kg K)
h
i
heat transfer coefcient inside the pipe (W/m
2
K)
h
o
heat transfer coefcient outside the pipe (W/m
2
K)
h
r
radiation heat transfer coefcient s3T
4
s
KT
4
N
=T
s
KT
N

k thermal conductivity (W/m K)


k
w
tube wall thermal conductivity (W/m K)
L length of the tube (m)
_ m mass ow rate (kg/s)
Nu Nusselt number
_
Q rate of heat transfer (W)
r
i
inner tube radius (m)
r
o
outer radius of insulation (m)
r
w
outer tube radius (m)
R
tot
total heat transfer resistance (m K/W)
t thickness (m)
t
ave
average insulation thickness (m)
t
w
tube wall thickness (m)
T
i
inlet temperature (K)
T
f
uid bulk temperature (K)
T
o
tube outlet temperature (K)
T
s
outer insulation surface temperature (K)
T
N
ambient temperature (K)
U velocity (m/s)
V
o
volume (m
3
)
x axial distance (m)
Greek letters
3 emissivity
n kinematic viscosity (m
2
/s)
s StefanBoltzmann constant (5.67!10
K8
W/m
2
K
4
)
t dimensionless thickness (t/L)
q
f
dimensionless uid bulk temperature ((T
f
KT
N
)/(T
i
KT
N
))
q
s
dimensionless surface temperature ((T
s
KT
N
)/(T
i
KT
N
))
x dimensionless axial distance (x/L)
A.Z. Sahin, M. Kalyon / Energy 30 (2005) 637647 638
to distribute the limited amount of insulation material so that an optimal insulation is achieved.
This is especially important where the structure is not isotropic, such as in aerospace and automotive
structures in which the conductivity could be varying throughout the wall to be insulated [1].
Optimum insulation of surfaces involves the determination of the optimum distribution of limited
available insulation material throughout the surface. Although, uniform distribution of insulation
material is easy to implement [2,3], it may be necessary to consider variable insulation thickness over the
surface to be insulated when convective and radiative boundary conditions cause variations in heat
transfer to or from the ambient along the surface [4,5].
A number of studies can be found in the literature on the thermal insulation of pipelines and
structures. However, most of these studies consider uniform insulation thickness. For example, Zaki and
El-Turki [6] studied the optimization of multi-layer thermal insulation for pipelines. Variable insulation
thickness consideration can be found only in very fewstudies. Kalyon and Sahin [7] studied the optimum
insulation thickness of a pipe subjected to convective heat transfer that minimizes the heat loss using the
control theory approach and steepest descent method. Sahin [8] studied the optimal insulation of ducts
subjected to external thermal radiation. He found the optimal insulation thickness variation along the
tube using a limited amount of insulation material in order to minimize the heat transfer. Due to the
convenience of implementation, the thickness function of the insulation in his analysis is considered to
be linear along the duct.
Wechsatol et al. [9] investigated the optimal geometric layout of schemes for distributing hot water
uniformly over an area. The amount of insulation material, the volume of all the pipes, and the amount of
pipe wall material were the main constraints in their work. In a more recent work [10], they studied the
optimization of a tree-shaped system of insulated pipes for the distribution of a stream of hot water over
an area which is covered uniformly by users who must receive the same ow rate of hot water. They
showed that the geometry of the insulated tree structure is relatively insensitive to how the insulation is
distributed over all the pipes. The thermal performance of the structure is also found to be relatively
insensitive to how nely the distribution of pipe sizes and insulation radii is optimized.
In the present study, insulation of a pipe is studied in order to obtain a suitable thickness variation such
that the temperature of the outer surface of the insulation is maintained to be uniform. The amount of
insulation material is set to be the constraint. Heat transfer on the outer surface of the insulation is
considered to be a combination of convection and radiation. An explicit analytical solution of the prole
for the insulation thickness variation is obtained. It is shown that the insulation thickness variation that
provides uniform surface temperature is independent of the convection and radiation heat transfer
coefcients. In other words, once the insulation is applied in the given prole, the outer surface
temperature of the insulation remains uniform regardless of the surrounding thermal conditions.
2. Analysis
Consider a circular duct through which a given uid is transported from one end to the other as shown
in Fig. 1. Although the circular cross-section has been chosen here as the most common geometry in
practice, the same analysis can be used for other cross-sectional geometries. The inlet temperature of the
uid is T
i
and the outlet temperature is T
o
. A limited amount of insulation material is available. When
this insulation material is distributed uniformly on the surface of the duct, the thickness of the insulation
becomes t
ave
. The objective in this study is to obtain a uniform outer surface temperature by distributing
A.Z. Sahin, M. Kalyon / Energy 30 (2005) 637647 639
the insulation material on the surface of the pipe from which heat transfer takes place with the ambient at
the surrounding temperature T
N
by convection and radiation.
The heat loss of uid in the control volume shown in Fig. 1 is
d
_
Q ZK_ mC
p
dT
f
Z
T
f
KT
N
R
tot
_ _
dx Z2pr
o
h
o
Ch
r
T
s
KT
N
dx (1)
where
R
tot
Z
1
2p
R
c
C
1
k
ln
r
o
r
w
_ _
C
1
r
o
h
o
Ch
r

_ _
(2)
in which
R
c
Z
1
r
i
h
i
C
1
k
w
ln
r
w
r
i
_ _
; r
i
Zr
w
Kt
w
; r
o
Zr
w
Ctx; and h
r
Zs3T
4
s
KT
4
N
=T
s
KT
N
:
The outer surface temperature of the insulation is related to the uid bulk temperature as
T
f
KT
s
R
c
C
1
k
ln
r
o
r
w
_ _ Z
T
s
KT
N
1
r
o
h
o
Ch
r

: (3)
This equation can be solved explicitly for the uid bulk temperature
T
f
ZT
s
Cr
o
h
o
Ch
r
R
c
C
1
k
ln
r
o
r
w
_ _ _ _
T
s
KT
N
(4)
Differentiating Eq. (4) with respect to x and noting that the outer surface temperature of the insulation
is considered to be constant
dT
f
dx
Zh
o
Ch
r
R
c
C
1
k
ln
r
o
r
w
_ _
C
1
k
_ _
T
s
KT
N

dr
o
dx
: (5)
Fig. 1. Sketch of the insulated circular duct.
A.Z. Sahin, M. Kalyon / Energy 30 (2005) 637647 640
On the other hand, Eq. (1) yields
dT
f
dx
ZK
2pr
o
h
o
Ch
r

_ mC
p
T
s
KT
N
(6)
Substituting Eq. (6) into Eq. (5) and re-arranging the result the differential equation for the insulation
thickness (i.e. the outer radius of the insulation) is obtained as
dr
o
dx
ZK
2pr
o
_ mC
p
R
c
C
1
k
ln
r
o
r
w
_ _
C
1
k
_ _ ; r
o
Or
w
(7)
Inspecting Eq. (7), it can easily be seen that the insulation thickness variation is independent of the
outer heat transfer coefcients h
o
and h
r
. In addition, since _ mO0; C
p
O0, r
o
OrO0, kO0, R
c
O0, we
observe, from Eq. (7), that (dr
o
/dx)!0. Thus, r
o
(x) is a decreasing function.
It can be shown that, using separating of variables, the solution of Eq. (7) is obtained as
r
o
x Ztx Cr
w
Zr
w
exp

a
1
K
4pk
_ mC
p
x

KkR
c
K1
_ _
(8)
where a
1
is the integration constant to be determined from the volume constraint
_
L
0
pr
2
o
x Kr
2
w
dx ZV
o
Zpr
w
Ct
ave

2
Kr
2
w
L (9)
Eq. (9) can be written as,
_
L
0
r
o
r
w
_ _
2
K1
_ _
dx Z
V
o
pr
2
w
(10)
where, from Eq. (8),
r
o
r
w
Z1=c
1
exp

a
1
Kb
1
x
_
_ _
(11)
in which b
1
Z4pk= _ mC
p
and c
1
Zexp(kR
c
C1).
Substituting Eq. (11) into Eq. (10) and organizing the resulting equation yields,
_
L
0
exp 2

a
1
Kb
1
x
_
_ _
dx Zd
1
(12)
where
d
1
Z
V
o
pr
2
CL
_ _
c
2
1
Zconstant (13)
Noting that
_
exp

s
p
_ _
ds Z 2

s
p
K2
_ _
exp

s
p
_ _
;
A.Z. Sahin, M. Kalyon / Energy 30 (2005) 637647 641
the integral in Eq. (12) becomes,
4

a
1
Kb
1
L
_
K2
_ _
exp 2

a
1
Kb
1
L
_
_ _
K 4

a
1
p
K2
_ _
exp 2

a
1
p
_ _
ZK4b
1
d
1
or
e
1

gK1
_
K1
_ _
e
e
1

gK1
p
K e
1

g
p
K1
_ _
e
e
1

g
p
ZK2b
1
d
1
(14)
where e
1
Z2

b
1
L
p
; gZa
1
/(b
1
L), and gR1.
Once the volume constraint V
o
is given g can be obtained from Eq. (14) by iteration technique. Thus,
the integration constant a
1
is obtained as
a
1
Zgb
1
L Zg
4pk
_ mC
p
L (15)
Let us, now, compute the value of the constant surface temperature, T
s
(0)ZT
o
, by using inlet
conditions, where T
f
(0)ZT
f,0
,
r
o
0 Zr
o;0
Zr
w
=c
1
exp

a
1
p
_ _
: (16)
Rewriting Eq. (3) at the inlet conditions, yields
r
o;0
h
o
T
o
KT
N
Cr
o;0
s3T
4
o
KT
4
N
Z
T
f;0
KT
o
R
c
C
1
k
lnr
o;0
=r
w

(17)
or
[
4
T
4
o
C[
1
T
o
K[
0
Z0; (18)
where
[
4
Zr
o;0
s3 R
c
C
1
k
lnr
o;0
=r
w

_ _
;
[
1
Z1 Cr
o;0
h
o
R
c
C
1
k
lnr
o;0
=r
w

_ _
;
and
[
0
ZT
f;0
Cr
o;0
R
c
C
1
k
lnr
o;0
=r
w

_ _
s3T
4
N
Ch
o
T
N
:
Among the four roots of Eq. (18), the real and positive one is chosen for the sound T
o
. Once T
o
is
determined, then, from Eq. (3) an explicit equation for T
f
(x) can be written as
T
f
x Z R
c
C
1
k
lnr
o
x=r
_ _
r
o
xh
o
T
o
KT
N
Cs3T
4
o
KT
4
N
CT
o
(19)
where r
o
(x) is given by Eq. (8).
A.Z. Sahin, M. Kalyon / Energy 30 (2005) 637647 642
3. Results and discussion
The insulation thickness variation that yields a uniform outer surface temperature along a pipe
through which a uid is transported is given in Eq. (8) in an explicit form. The prole is in an exponential
form, however, for most practical cases, it is very close to a linear function. In order to illustrate the
solution for the insulation thickness variation and discuss the relevant parameters, a base case is selected
for which the thermophysical parameters are given in Table 1. The working uid is chosen to be water.
The ow is assumed to be fully developed and laminar. For the base case the Reynolds number is
calculated to be
Re Z
2Ur
w
Kt
w

n
water
Z
2!0:01!0:0127 K0:002
1:005!10
K6
Z213
This ensures that the ow is laminar. The heat transfer coefcient on the inner surface of the pipe is
then calculated to be
h
i
Z
k
water
Nu
2r
w
Kt
w

Z
0:6!3:66
2!0:0127 K0:002
Z102:6
Heat transfer coefcient on the outer surface of the insulation is taken to be a typical value of
10 W/m
2
K. The prole of the insulation thickness is not affected by the selection of the outer
convective and radiative heat transfer coefcients. Therefore, for the case study selected the radiation
heat transfer is considered to be negligible. The insulation material available is considered to be
limited amount such that when it is distributed uniformly over the pipe the thickness would be 20 mm.
Fig. 2 shows the variation of the insulation thickness for the base case in the dimensionless form. As
the inlet temperature of uid entering the pipe is higher than the surrounding, the uid bulk temperature
along the pipe is expected to decrease and therefore the insulation thickness is also a decreasing
exponential function. However, the variation is very close to a linear one as seen from the gure,
indicating that the implementation of this insulation is an easy matter in practical applications.
Table 1
Parameters used in numerical study
Parameter Value
L (m) 10
r
w
(m) 0.0127
t
w
(m) 0.002
t
ave
(m) 0.02
T
N
(K) 273
T
i
(K) 350
U (m/s) 0.01
k
water
(W/m K) 0.6
(C
p
)
water
(J/kg K) 4178
n
water
(m
2
/s) 1.005!10
K6
k
w
(W/m K) 30
k (W/m K) 0.03
h
o
(W/m
2
K) 10
A.Z. Sahin, M. Kalyon / Energy 30 (2005) 637647 643
Fig. 3 shows the resultant temperature variations of both the bulk uid and outer surface of the
insulation when the proper insulation is applied as given in Eq. (8). This gure shows that the insulation
thickness obtained is indeed a correct solution to provide uniform surface temperature.
Referring to Eq. (8), the insulation thickness prole includes basically two parameters, namely, the
thermal conductivity of the insulation and the velocity of the bulk ow through the pipe. Here it is
assumed that the geometry of the pipe, the material of the pipe and the uid type are xed. Fig. 4 shows
the effect of the thermal conductivity of insulation material selected on the thickness of the insulation.
For low thermal conductivity insulation material the variation of insulation thickness is very close to
Fig. 2. Insulation thickness variation along the pipe.
Fig. 3. Temperature variation along the pipe for bulk uid and outer surface of insulation.
A.Z. Sahin, M. Kalyon / Energy 30 (2005) 637647 644
uniform distribution. As the thermal conductivity of insulation material increases the thickness variation
becomes signicant. In all cases the variation of the insulation thickness can easily be approximated to a
linear prole for ease of application.
Fig. 5 shows the effect of the bulk uid velocity on the insulation thickness variation. For high uid
velocity a nearly uniform insulation distribution is obtained. However, as the velocity of the bulk uid
decreases the variation of insulation thickness becomes important to ensure uniform outer surface
temperature of the insulation. The proles of the insulation thickness for this case can also be
approximated to linear ones.
Fig. 4. Effect of thermal conductivity of insulation on the variation of the insulation thickness.
Fig. 5. Effect of the bulk uid velocity on the variation of the insulation thickness.
A.Z. Sahin, M. Kalyon / Energy 30 (2005) 637647 645
The type of insulation thickness proles indicate that it is possible and easily applicable to distribute a
limited amount of insulation material on a pipe such that a uniform outer surface temperature is
maintained. The results nd application in the situations where safety and comfort considerations are
priority and where temperature uniformity is important due to sensitive process conditions.
4. Conclusions
An analytical solution to the insulation thickness variation over a pipe transporting high temperature
uid is obtained in an effort for maintaining a uniform outer surface temperature. The following
conclusions can be derived from the current study:
1. It is possible to distribute a limited amount of insulation over the surface of a pipe such that the outer
surface temperature is maintained to be uniform. The solution of insulation thickness variation is
obtained analytically.
2. The insulation thickness prole is found to be independent from the outer convective and radiative
heat transfer coefcients, as long as these coefcients are uniform over the surface. This fact provides
convenience and possibility of wide range of applications.
3. The insulation thickness prole is in an exponential form, however, it is very close to linear variation
for most practical cases. This indicates that the practical application of the results for the insulation
thickness is very easy.
4. For high velocity uid ow problems and low thermal conductivity insulation material applications
the insulation thickness may be applied uniformly over the pipe as the variation of the outer surface
temperature will be insignicant.
Acknowledgements
The author acknowledges the support of the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals for this
work.
References
[1] Sahin AZ. Optimal insulation of structures with varying thermal conductivity. AIAA J Thermophys Heat Transfer 1997;
11(2):1537.
[2] Bejan A. How to distribute a nite amount of insulation on a wall with nonuniform temperature. Int J Heat Mass Transfer
1993;36(1):4956.
[3] Bejan A, Tsatsaronis G, Moran M. Thermal design and optimization. New York: Wiley; 1996.
[4] Lim JS, Bejan A. The optimal thickness of a wall with convection on one side. Int J Heat Mass Transfer 1992;
35(7):16739.
[5] Bejan A. Convection heat transfer, 2nd ed. New York: Wiley; 1995.
[6] Zaki GM, Al-Turki AM. Optimization of multi-layer thermal insulation for pipelines. Heat Transfer Eng 2000;
21(4):6370.
A.Z. Sahin, M. Kalyon / Energy 30 (2005) 637647 646
[7] Kalyon M, Sahin AZ. Application of optimal control theory in pipe insulation. Numer Heat Transfer, Part A 2002;
41:391402.
[8] Sahin AZ. Optimal insulation of ducts in extraterrestrial applications. Int J Energy Res 2003;28:195203.
[9] Wechsatol W, Lorente S, Bejan A. Tree-shaped insulated designs for the uniform distribution of hot water over an area. Int
J Heat Mass Transfer 2001;44(16):311123.
[10] Wechsatol W, Lorente S, Bejan A. Development of tree-shaped ows by adding new users to existing networks of hot
water pipes. Int J Heat Mass Transfer 2002;45(4):72333.
A.Z. Sahin, M. Kalyon / Energy 30 (2005) 637647 647