Gordon H. Hart

August 1, 2004

ASTM Committee C16 on Thermal Insulation met in Salt Lake City, April 18-21, 2004. The following is an C16 overview, scope, individual subcommittee scopes, and a summary of some of the activities by task groups reviewing and writing standards related to mechanical insulation. You can learn more about ASTM C16 by going to, clicking on "Technical Committees," then "Search for ASTM Committee by Designation," and finally, select "C16" from the hundred or so other ASTM committees.

C16 Committee Overview

ASTM Committee C16 on Thermal Insulation was formed in 1938. C16 meets twice a year, usually in April and October, with approximately 120 members attending more than three days of technical meetings capped by a discussion on relevant topics in the thermal insulation industry. The committee, with current membership of approximately 350, currently has jurisdiction of about 134 standards, published in the Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Volume 04.06. These standards continue to play a preeminent role in all aspects important to the industry of thermal insulation, including products, systems and associated coatings and coverings, excluding refractories.

C16 Committee Scope

The scope of the Committee C16 shall be the development of standards, promotion of knowledge and stimulation of research pertaining to thermal insulation materials, products, systems, and associated coatings and coverings, but not including insulating refractories. These activities shall be coordinated with those of other ASTM committees and national and international organizations having similar interest.

C16 Subcommittee Scopes

C16.16 U.S. Delegation to ISO/TC 163: Standardization in the field of thermal insulation including terminology, test methods, calculation methods and specifications for thermal insulation materials, components, constructions and systems, including a general review and coordination of work on thermal insulation within ISO. Excluded are test and calculation methods that are treated by other ISO technical committees after agreement with these technical committees.

C16.20 Homogeneous Inorganic Thermal Insulation Materials: Develop and maintain standard test methods, definitions and nomenclature, recommended practices, classifications and specifications for all homogeneous inorganic thermal insulation materials under C16.00 jurisdiction, except those assigned to subcommittee C16.21 and C16.23.

C16.21 Reflective Insulation: Develop and maintain product specifications and test methods applicable to thermal insulations that depend essentially on the reflectance of heat for their effectiveness. Test methods are those not generally applicable to other forms of thermal insulation or associated materials. Jurisdiction of this subcommittee on building type constructions include only materials or assemblies consisting of one or more heat reflective (low emissivity) surface(s), such as metallic foil, unmounted or mounted on thin membrane(s), such as paper or fibrous or foam sheets, all less than 1/8 inch in thickness.

C16.22 Organic and Nonhomogeneous Inorganic Thermal Insulations: Develop and maintain standard test methods, definitions and nomenclature, recommended practices, classifications and specifications for all organic and non-homogeneous inorganic thermal insulation materials under C16.00 jurisdiction except those assigned to subcommittees C16.21 and C16.23.

C16.23 Blanket and Loose Fill Insulation: Develop and maintain product specifications; recommended practices and test methods (when not under the jurisdiction of a methods subcommittee) for all thermal insulation materials under C16.00 jurisdiction, except those assigned to subcommittees C16.20, C16.21 and C16.22.

C16.24 Health and Safety Hazard Potentials: To develop and review standards related to potential health and safety aspects associated with the installation and use of thermal insulation materials, accessories and systems.

C16.30 Thermal Measurements (including calculation methods): Develop and maintain test methods and recommended practices relating to the transfer of energy within and through thermal insulating materials and systems.

C16.31 Chemical and Physical Properties: To develop and maintain test methods and practices related to chemical and selected physical properties of thermal insulating materials.

C16.32 Mechanical Properties: Develop and maintain test methods and practices related to selected mechanical and physical properties of thermal insulation and associated materials.

C16.33 Insulation Finishes and Moisture: Develop and maintain material specifications, test methods, recommended practices and classification systems: 1) applicable to coatings, coverings, adhesives and sealants used in association with thermal insulations; and 2) involving the transfer of vapor through thermal insulation and associated materials, involving the accumulation of moisture in thermal insulating materials and systems.

C16.40 Insulation Systems: The development and maintenance of performance specifications and standard practices for thermal insulation systems. The systems include all of the individual components combined in a manner to provide an effective control of heat transfer and moisture transmission within the insulation systems under the operational and environmental conditions of its intended use. Such components, if part of the system, will include the thermal insulation, supports, securements and protective coverings.

Summaries From Salt Lake City

The following are the summaries of recent activities in Salt Lake City on individual standards relating to mechanical insulation materials and systems. These are organized by the Subcommittee associated with each standard.

Subcommittee C16.20-Homogeneous and Inorganic Insulation Materials

C585 Standard on Inner and Outer Diameters: The current standard was reapproved, as is, although the task group will meet again in the fall, in Washington, to work on a revision that will include flexible pipe insulation materials. In addition, the task group will work to account for outer diameters to develop tolerances for the purposes of nesting pipe inner and outer layers of preformed pipe insulation and for the purposes of adding preformed jacketing over preformed pipe insulation. Finally, this next revision will include metric dimensions.

C533 Standard on Calcium Silicate Pipe and Block: This standard was recently revised and successfully reballoted. The revision includes new performance data for block insulation and separate performance data for pipe insulation.

C547 Standard on Mineral Fiber Pipe Insulation: This standard was recently successfully reballoted. The task group is working on additions of corrosivity and pH. In addition, the task group has formally requested Subcommittee C16.32, on mechanical properties, to develop a new test method for pipe insulation compressive resistance and to collect data from existing products using that method. Therefore, this task group on C547 will meet in the fall, in Washington, as will a new task group on testing pipe insulation for compressive resistance.

C612 Standard on Mineral Fiber Board: A revised standard was recently balloted successfully and hence has been accepted for publication. One change in this revision is the addition of material performance below ambient, down to zero degrees F, when tested with an appropriate vapor retarder.

Subcommittee C16.22-Organic and Nonhomogeneous Insulation Materials

Recent activities on new and existing standards are as follows:

C534 Standard Specification on Flexible Elastomeric Insulation: The Task Group, along with the Task Group for C1427-Standard for Polyolefin Foam Insulation, sponsored round robin testing amongst several manufacturers for dimensional stability. The new data will be included in the next draft.

C578 Standard Specification on Unfaced Polystyrene Insulation: The task group recently balloted a draft and received negatives that were found to be persuasive. One of these changes was to introduce a new type of high-density material in this standard based on the thermal and structural applications for 2.1 to 4.0 pfc foam. The revised draft will address the negatives and reballot.

C591 Standard Specification on Unfaced Preformed Rigid Cellular Polyisocyanurate Thermal Insulation: The task group has been discussing the impact of pending blowing agent changes on the physical properties in the standard.

C728 Standard Specification on Perlite Thermal Insulation: The task group recently balloted a draft, which received negatives and will be reballoted within the subcommittee.

C1126 Standard Specification for Phenolic Foam Insulation: The latest version of this standard has been approved and has received the 2004 date.

C1410 Standard Specification for Melamine Foam Insulation: The task group recently balloted a draft and received some negatives that they found to be persuasive. The new revised draft, which will reflect the negatives relating to smoke toxicity, will be reballoted.

C1482 Standard Specification on Polyimide Insulation: The task group recently balloted a draft and the negatives were withdrawn; so standard will receive 2004 date.

Subcommittee C16.23-Blanket and Loose Fill Materials

This subcommittee addresses a number of standards for mechanical insulation and a number for building envelop insulation. Activity related to mechanical insulation is given below.

C592-Specification for Mineral Fiber Blanket Insulation and Blanket-Type Pipe Insulation (metal mesh covered) (industrial type): This standard has recently been revised and successfully balloted. This new revision contains supplementary requirements of NAVSEA so that it now meets MIL-I-2818: Metal Mesh Blankets for Military Use. It is now available from ASTM and ready to be published. The task group will nevertheless meet in the fall, in Washington, to add below ambient performance data, on surfaces down to zero degrees.

Subcommittee C16.30-Thermal-Measurements

The task group for C335, Standard Test Method for Steady-State Heat Transfer Properties of Horizontal Pipe Insulation, is in the process of incorporating vertical pipe insulation into the standard. Also, when testing for thermal performance on below ambient pipe testing, it has been practice to test an ambient pipe with below-ambient surroundings on the outside of the insulation. A new draft will include a cautionary statement regarding this practice since it can give incorrect results. The task group on C680, Practice for Estimate of the Heat Gain or Loss and the Surface temperatures of Insulated Flat, Cylindrical and Spherical Systems by Use of Computer Programs, is in the process of adding new surface coefficients. This will bring C680 in line with the surface coefficients already incorporated in the program 3E Plus®, V3.2.

Subcommittee C16.40-Insulation Systems

This subcommittee has several major current activities. These are listed below with a short description of recent activity at the Salt Lake City meeting.

There is a task group developing a new standard titled, "Standard Guide for the Pre-fabrication and Field Fabrication of Cellular Glass Pipe and Tubing Insulation." At the meeting, the task group completed writing the scope and a section on standard sizes and dimensions. One member is going to provide sketches showing both correct and incorrect ways to cut sections from blocks. This task group plans on meeting again in the fall, at the Washington meeting.

There is an existing ASTM "Standard Guide for Selecting Jacketing Materials for Thermal Insulation," designated ASTM C1423. This guide will be kept as-is. However, a new task group has started writing a new "Standard Specification for Selecting Jacketing Materials for Thermal Insulation." To write a specification, the task group members focused on making lists of commercially available jacketing materials, in North America, and will be categorizing these into tables, on each for piping, ducts and equipment. It is envisioned that one side of each table will have the materials, and the perpendicular side will have the properties. Those are properties such as abuse resistance, water vapor transmission, external corrosion resistance and many others. This task group plans to meet in the fall to continue its work.

The is an existing ASTM "Standard Guide for Flexible Removable Insulation Covers," designated ASTM C1094, which has been in existence for more than 15 years. A discussion was held, during the subcommittee meeting in Salt Lake City, about NIA’s interest in having a specification developed for removable insulation covers. Given that this is really not NIA’s mission and it is ASTM’s mission to develop standards such as this, the subcommittee decided to start a new task group to develop such a specification and to meet for the first time in the fall. Joe Bhavsar, of ABB Lummus, will chair this task group.

Subcommittee C16.94-Terminology

This subcommittee only has one standard to address, C168, which contains a number of insulation term definitions. The task group recently balloted definitions for five terms: polyimide foam, homogeneous material, flexible cellular, open cell and closed cell. All are currently defined in existing ASTM material standards except for homogeneous material, which is already defined in C168, but was being reballoted with an expanded definition. A number of negatives were received on each term. Therefore, all are being redefined, to address the negatives, and will be reballoted prior to the fall meeting in Washington.

Subcommittee C16.96-Technology Transfer

As an additional note of interest to our industry, ASHRAE is planning a symposium in February 2005, in Orlando, Fla., on the subject of mechanical insulation. ASHRAE will soon be calling for papers for that symposium. Their Web address is

C16 held a Monday night forum in Salt Lake City on the subject of testing insulation for noise reduction. David Moyer of Riverbank Acoustical Laboratories gave a talk to about 50 interested members on that subject. For the next ASTM C16 meeting, Subcommittee C16.96 plans a Monday night forum on the subject of "green buildings." While a speaker has not yet been found, Subcommittee C16.96 will be looking for an expert on this subject, possibly someone representing a Washington, D.C., area organization.

Acknowledgements: The author wishes to thank the following people for their contributions to this article:

  • Bill Brayman, Brayman Insulation Consultants, LLC;

  • Kartik Patel, Armacell, LLC;

  • Anil Shenoy, Dow Chemical.