So why do we insulate chilled water pipes, valves and fittings?

Well, according to Eagle & Stork, one of the longest serving Cairns plumber operations and plumbing contractor for Lend Lease’s new Ergon Energy complex in Rockhampton, applying insulation to their chilled water pipes/vessels is integral for three reasons:

  1. To minimise heat (energy) gains to the chilled water and thus operating costs and carbon footprint
  2. To comply with Statutory National Building Code (NCC) regulations
  3. To manage and minimise the risk of condensation formation (sweating) on the surface of chilled water pipes/vessels

And the type of insulation that delivers best possible outcomes for these key deliverables?

Eagle & Stork explain that over the past 40 years or so, most pipe insulation materials for water pipes and vessels have been pre-formed sectional (split) fibreglass, pre-formed sectional polystyrene or closed cell elastomeric (black foam) types.

And while each has proven valuable in their ability to insulate, in particular the ever-popular elastomeric foam options, they do have their downfalls.

Eagle & Stork have since turned to a new insulation product comprising cross-linked closed cell polyolefin foam, originally only available in sheet form, but now readily available in preformed single split sectional pipe insulation to suit all standard pipe diameters.

It’s called Thermobreak® and it’s manufactured in Australia by Sekisui Foam Australia.

Among other projects, Eagle & Stork recently utilised Sekisui’s Thermobreak® and Thermobreak® No Clad for their Ergon Energy complex project in Rockhampton North Queensland, because of its industry leading long-term vapour barrier performance and ease of installation.

“In our experience, Thermobreak® has a much higher resistance to sweating and as such has been adopted as our first choice of insulation material on chilled water and direct refrigerant systems,” says Eagle & Stork.

Interestingly, all the above insulation products have very similar thermal conductivity properties (heat loss/gain resistance) but none match the long-term vapour permeability of Thermobreak®. Where the above insulations would become saturated and lose their insulation properties after 10-15 years, Thermobreak® would remain dry and still performing well into 25-30 years after installation.

The $38 million Ergon Energy building is being delivered by Lend Lease and is nearing completion. Some 450 Ergon staff are expected to be housed in the new centralised facility that was conceived to relocate Ergon Energy’s operational and support functions under the one roof and enable the company to operate more effectively and efficiently.

"This project is a clear example of Ergon Energy's commitment to its strategy to increase operational efficiencies and invest prudently in order to reduce pressure on electricity prices to our customers in the long term," says Ergon Energy CE Ian McLeod.

Of course the efficiency of business is also directly tied to their building’s performance, and with this in mind Ergon and Eagle & Stork have only done themselves a favour by specifying Thermobreak® for their water pipes, valves and fittings insulation.


Thermal Tank: Thermobreak® No Clad (100mm thick)

Chilled Water Pipe, Valves & Fittings

- Inside and below 1200mm: Thermobreak® No Clad

- Inside and above 1200mm: Thermobreak® Tube

- Outside: Thermobreak® No Clad

Chilled Water Pipe Supports: Thermobreak® Thermaloc

Interested in finding out more about insulation solutions? Download this free whitepaper.

Image: Eagle & Stork recently utilised Sekisui’s Thermobreak and Thermobreak No Clad for their Ergon Energy complex project