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Aerogel: By 2025, the scale of petrochemical pipeline application market will reach 12.3 billion yuan!

In recent years, as a new type of thermal insulation material, aerogel felt has been widely used in oil and gas transmission, steam pipeline and process pipeline in petrochemical industry, which can effectively protect the heat loss of pipeline medium during transmission.

At present, the materials used for pipeline insulation mainly include calcium silicate, composite silicate, rock wool, etc. The thermal conductivity of these thermal insulation materials will increase significantly with the increase of ambient temperature and humidity. In order to meet the requirement of not exceeding the specified maximum allowable heat loss, it is necessary to increase the thickness of insulation materials. The use of thick insulation layer will have a great impact on the transportation, construction and use space of materials.

Therefore, it is an important field for energy conservation and thermal insulation of thermal pipeline to adopt advanced and efficient thermal insulation materials to carry out energy-saving technical transformation of thermal pipeline, reduce the thickness of thermal insulation layer and reduce the heat loss of pipeline.

The pore size of gel is lower than the average free path of air molecules under normal pressure, which can make the air molecules in the pores of gel nearly static, avoiding the convection heat transfer of air. The very low volume density of gel and the bending path of nano network structure also prevent the gas and solid heat conduction, and the pore walls tending to be "infinite" can minimize the heat radiation. Through the combined action of three aspects, the way of heat transfer is almost blocked, making the aerogel achieve a very outstanding thermal insulation effect, even far lower than the thermal conductivity of 0.025W/(m · K) of static air at room temperature, reaching below 0.013W/(m · K).

Compared with traditional thermal insulation materials, the thermal conductivity of silica aerogel thermal insulation blanket is only 1/3~1/5 of that of traditional thermal insulation materials, and its thermal insulation capacity is 2~8 times of that of traditional materials; It has excellent fire and water resistance, good tensile and compressive strength and chemical stability.

According to the paper Application and Performance Analysis of Silica Gas gel Thermal Insulation Felt, the refining atmospheric coking unit uses the traditional type III high-temperature glass wool felt insulation material, and the subsequent pipeline insulation structure transformation uses the combined insulation method of silica gas gel thermal insulation felt+single-sided aluminum foil glass fiber cloth insulation material. Through comparative analysis and calculation before and after the transformation of high-temperature pipeline, the paper shows that:

(1) The heat loss is reduced by 34.66% with the use of silica aerogel thermal insulation felt, and the energy-saving effect is obvious;

(2) As a new type of thermal insulation material, silica aerogel thermal insulation blanket has significantly better thermal insulation performance than traditional thermal insulation materials, which is highlighted by the fact that the temperature difference between the starting and ending points of thermal pipelines is significantly lower than that of traditional thermal insulation materials, and the thickness of thermal insulation layer is reduced by more than 50% compared with that of traditional thermal insulation materials.

Therefore, as a new type of thermal insulation material, silica aerogel thermal insulation felt has the properties of fire protection, heat insulation, water resistance, ultra-low thermal conductivity, and long service life, and is an ideal choice for high-temperature pipelines in oil refining enterprises.

Fig. 1 The thickness of air gel insulation layer is thinner

Fig. 2 Aerogel can effectively block the heat transfer pathway

Taking oil and gas transmission pipelines and oil and gas pipelines as examples, it is reported that in 2021, China's oil and gas long-distance transmission pipelines include domestic pipelines and foreign pipelines, with a total mileage of 165000 kilometers. Generally speaking, the diameter of oil and gas pipeline is between 15mm and 1500mm, which is 600mm, or 0.6m.

According to the paper Progress in Preparation of SiO2 Aerogel Fiber Composites and Application in the Field of Building Energy Conservation, about 20mm aerogel felt is required for thermal insulation of oil and gas pipelines. It can be calculated that the cross sectional area of aerogel felt material used for oil and gas pipeline insulation is about 0.04 square meters, and the total volume is about 6.42 million cubic meters.

Based on the current market price of aerogel of 10000 yuan/m3, the total market space can reach 64.2 billion yuan. In 2021, based on the permeability of 1%, the market space of aerogel in oil and gas transmission pipeline is about 640 million yuan, corresponding to the demand of 64000 cubic meters of aerogel.

According to the "Fourteenth Five-Year Plan" for Modern Energy System issued by the National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Administration, the scale of the national oil and gas pipeline network is expected to reach about 210000 kilometers in 2025.

It can be predicted that in 2025, the total market space of aerogel in the field of oil and gas transmission pipelines will reach 81.7 billion yuan. Assuming that the permeability will increase to 3%, the market size of aerogel in oil and gas transmission pipelines will reach 2.45 billion yuan, corresponding to the demand of 245000 cubic meters of aerogel.

If the penetration rate increases to 15%, the market scale of oil and gas transmission pipeline can rise to 12.3 billion yuan, corresponding to 1.23 million cubic meters of demand. The above calculation only considers the oil and gas transmission pipeline, and does not consider the steam pipeline and process pipeline of the refinery. If the market space is considered, it may be larger.

Table 1 Taking 2025 as an example, with the increase of permeability, the market space of aerogel in oil and gas transmission pipelines will also grow rapidly