Improving Cryogenic Pipes to Reduce Wasted Energy, Money at BRUGG

BRUGG, a leading cryogenic piping company based in Wunstorf, Germany, engineers pipe systems for various industrial applications while minimizing heat leak and saving resources—monetary and otherwise. Where BRUGG’s low temperature applications are only one part of a larger product portfolio, the vast temperature differences between cryogenic and ambient temperatures creates the potential for significant improvements in cryogenic piping.

In the cryogenic industry there is usually a line drawn between helium and hydrogen—both currently mainly used by research institutes and other high-tech applications—and the “standard” cryogens like liquid nitrogen, liquid oxygen and liquefied natural gas. In these “standard” cryogenics and their related products, there is a huge amount of money and energy being thrown away by even the simple misuse of foam insulation.

A one-inch foam insulated pipe might have an average heat leak of about 20 W/m. Performance may either be better or worse in the field depending on many factors like manufacturer, the age of the insulation and installation-based errors. But, when compared to a “normal” vacuum insulated pipe, BRUGG’s one-inch pipe has shown a heat leak rate of less than one W/m. Standard piping systems may be a suitable option when the foam insulated pipes are intended for short usages, only a couple of hours per year. But once usage approaches 2000 or 3000 hours per year users can waste thousands of dollars every year without any usage of the cold exergy stored in the cryogenic liquid. In these cases, users should consider exchanging a traditional piping system with vacuum insulated options.

Consider a foam insulated pipe being used for more than 2000 hours a year at a length of about 10 meters or more. The return-on-investment period might be in a range of about two years. If the pipe is even longer or the usage is above 2000 hours a year, the return-on-investment time will be increased even more.

FCP Flexwell Cryo Pipe 17. Image: Brugg Rohrsysteme GmbH

FCP Flexwell Cryo Pipe 17. Image: Brugg Rohrsysteme GmbH

BRUGG (CSA CSM) has been providing stainless steel flexible pipes for over 50 years where vacuum insulated pipes are fully premanufactured in the company’s workshop and delivered to customers onsite as a plug-and-play solution—no need for welding and vacuum pumping. BRUGG’s Flexwell All-in-One and the Flexwell Cryo Pipe can provide users with necessary piping systems in as little as six to eight weeks and can be used for the transfer of all cryogenic liquids and as a cryogenic envelope for superconducting cables—especially for HTS cable systems. Due to the continuous production method, it is possible to provide pipe lengths of more than 100 meters, only limited by the physics of vacuum pumping and transportation.

Normally, these considerations are well known and accounted for on first-time installations, but if the working scheme of a pipeline is changed, a reconsideration is often forgotten as there is already a working system in place. As it is a flexible pipe, one can easily measure the length of the pipe. Then tolerances can be compensated with a small overlength of the pipe and a simple extension.

When considering money, energy and CO2 emissions in future, proper planning and superior cryogenic piping systems can help with all.