Standards Issue

Gordon H. Hart

January 1, 2004

The ASTM Committee C16 on thermal insulation, met in Tampa, Fla., Oct. 20-22, 2003. The following is a C16 overview, scope, individual subcommittee scopes, and a summary of some of the activities by task groups reviewing and/or writing standards related to mechanical insulation. Readers can learn more about ASTM C16 by going to the ASTM Web site at:, clicking on "Technical Committee," then "Search for ASTM Committee by Designation," and finally select "C16" from the approximately 100 ASTM committees.

C16 Committee Overview

The ASTM Committee C16 on Thermal Insulation was formed in 1938. The committee meets twice a year, usually in April and October, with approximately 120 members attending over 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, has jurisdiction over 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 thermal insulation industry, including products, systems, and associated coatings and coverings, excluding refractories.

C16 Committee Scope

The C16 Committee’s scope 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 interests.

C16 Subcommittee Scopes

C16.16 US Delegation to ISO/TC 163
Scope: 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
Scope: 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
Scope: 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" in thickness.

C16.22 Organic and Nonhomogeneous Inorganic Thermal Insulations
Scope: 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
Scope: 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
Scope: 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)
Scope: 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
Scope: To develop and maintain test methods and practices related to chemical and selected physical properties of thermal insulating materials.

C16.32 Mechanical Properties
Scope: 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
Scope: 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
Scope: 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.


The following are the summaries of recent activities in Tampa on individual standards. These are organized by the subcommittee associated with each standard:

Subcommittee C16.20 – Homogeneous and Inorganic Insulation Materials

  • C450 – Standards for Fabrication of Fitting Covers: the adjunct, which is published and sold separately from the C450 standard, is now available on CD. This contains new elbow specifications including a reduction in the number of miters.

  • C585 – Standard on Inner and Outer Diameters: There is continuing discussion at the task group on developing nesting standard dimensions and standards on outer diameters. Since the current standard is about to expire, the subcommittee decided to reballot it as is, with no changes, but to continue work at the next meeting.

  • C533 – Standard on Calcium Silicate Pipe and Block: There was a recent subcommittee ballot which received a persuasive negative regarding the need to distinguish between pipe and block insulation, particularly with regards to thermal performance. In addition, there is a new, higher-density calcium silicate material now available, with a density of 22 pcf that is being added to a revised draft. The standard will be reballoted.

  • C610 – Standard on Perlite Block and Pipe: There is similar activity as on C533 (see previous) regarding the need to distinguish between pipe and block thermal performance by type. As a result, a recent ballot received a persuasive negative and the standard will be reballoted.

  • C552 – Standard on Cellular Glass: The task group discussed cracking in cellular glass on applications above 250 degrees Fahrenheit (F) and whether there’s a need for double layering; the task group decided that there is no such need.

  • C547 – Standard on Mineral Fiber Pipe Insulation: The task group is planning a round robin sag test, in conjunction with the task group for C411 (hot surface performance of high temperature insulation). This round robin testing will also include tests for corrosivity, alkalinity, and pH, and mechanical properties, in particular compressive resistance.

  • C612 Standard on Mineral Fiber Board: A recent ballot received several negatives that were found to be persuasive. One of these was on the Scope, regarding use of mineral fiber board below ambient. The scope will be rewritten and will be reballoted as a separate item.

  • C195 – Standard on Mineral Fiber Thermal Insulating Cement: The task group has a new chairman and will work on receiving new data in order to make the standard current. Without this, there is some question as to whether the standard is necessary.

  • C795 – Standard on materials for Use over Austenitic Stainless Steel: The task group is in agreement over a change of acceptability standards to allow chloride ion concentrations below 10 ppm when sodium and silicate ion concentrations are above 50 ppm. This standard, with the appropriate change in wording, will be reballoted in the next few months.

Subcommittee C16.23 – Blanket and Loose Fill Materials

Task groups addressing this subcommittee’s material standards on mechanical insulation did not meet in Tampa but several do plan on meeting in Salt Lake City in April, 2004. These are C553 – Standard for Mineral Fiber Blanket Insulation; C1393 – Standard on Perpendicularly Oriented Mineral Fiber Roll and Sheet; C656 – Standard on Structural Insulating Board; and C929 – Standard on Handling Insulation over Austenitic Stainless Steel.

Subcommittee C16.22 – Organic and Nonhomogeneous Insulation Materials

The ASTM subcommittee C16.22 task groups discussed proposed new material standards on polypropylene foam and rigid polyimide foam as well as existing material standards. Recent activities on new and existing standards are as follows:

  • C534 – Standard on Flexible Elastomeric Insulation: The task group, along with the task group for C1427 – Standard for Polyolefin Foam Insulation, are sponsoring round robin testing for dimensional stability among several manufacturers.

  • C1126 – Standard for Phenolic Foam Insulation: The task group recently balloted a revised draft and received several negatives, some of which were found persuasive. Changes will be made and a new draft will be balloted.

  • C1410 – Standard 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, will include reference to a procedure for mounting samples for conducting E84 tests and will be reballoted.

  • C591-Unfaced Preformed Rigid Cellular Polyisocyanurate Thermal Insulation: There was discussion on the impact of pending blowing agent changes on the physical properties in the standard.

There is a task group writing a new standard for rigid polyimide foam (there is already a Standard for Flexible Polyimide Foam, C1482). This task group recently conducted a subcommittee ballot on a draft standard and received a number of negatives, several of which dealt with categories by density and were found to be persuasive. They will revise the draft standard and send it out for ballot. This is a task group writing a new standard for polypropylene foam insulation.

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, for use 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, which 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 C16.31 – Chemical and Physical Properties

The ASTM subcommittee C16.31 activities that impact mechanical insulation involve Temperature/Stability, Corrosion, and Sampling. There are task groups that manage test methods for determining hot surface performance and linear shrinkage; and standard practices for estimating insulation’s maximum use temperature. Corrosion test methods include C692, the 28-day qualification test for insulation to be used on austenitic stainless steel related to civilian and military nuclear applications.

The associated test method for chemical analysis of leachable ions, C871 is used in the specifications for nuclear use and has been undergoing continuous review at ASTM meetings. A new task group is working on writing a new standard for estimating the corrosiveness of insulation towards other metals than stainless steel (carbon steel, aluminum, and copper). The status of that work is that a draft document has been balloted and is undergoing revisions. There is also a newly formed task group on statistical variables for reporting maximum physical properties (excluding thermal conductivity) that will have a significant impact on the testing of mechanical insulation.

Subcommittee C16.40 – Insulation Systems

This subcommittee has three major current activities. One is an active task group developing a new standard on fabrication of pipe and equipment insulation from cellular glass. In Tampa, this task group decided to limit its scope to taking the Annex from C552 and expanding it to become a separate, stand-alone standard. A second activity is reviewing existing standards on estimating quantities of insulation for piping and components (C1409). A third is reviewing an existing guide for selecting jacketing materials (C1423) and has decided to keep it as is. However, a member who is a specifier for an architectural/engineering firm said that he needs a specification, not a guide, to assist him in his work. Therefore, the task group decided to start writing a new specification, instead of revising the existing guide for selecting jacketing materials over thermal insulation. This will eventually become a new standard.

Subcommittee C16.94 – Terminology

This subcommittee only has one standard to address, C168, which contains a number of insulation term definitions. In the last year, ASTM C16 has approved definitions for the terms mineral wool, fibrous glass, and glass fiber. In the next half year, the task group recommended adding definitions for the following five terms: polyimide foam, homogeneous material, flexible cellular, open cell, and closed cell. All are currently defined in existing ASTM standards except for homogeneous material which is already defined in C168.

Subcommittee C16.96 – Technology Transfer

This subcommittee organizes the Monday Night Forum, which was held in Tampa on the evening of Oct. 20. The topic was the new American Society of Heating and Refrigeration Engineers (ASHRAE) Mechanical Insulation Technical Committee and its work in writing a new chapter for the ASHRAE Handbook of Fundamentals. This chapter will be called Insulation for Mechanical Systems. There were four speakers on the subject. Scott Miller of Knauf Insulation first gave an overview of ASHRAE, the technical committees, and the handbooks. Glenn Brower, also with Knauf, then spoke on the history and background of this effort to develop a new chapter for the handbook. The third speaker was Chris Crall of Owens Corning, who spoke on the content of the new chapter, which will include both performance properties of specific types of mechanical insulation and specific design information. Finally, Andre Desjarlais of Oak Ridge National Laboratory spoke about ASHRAE research programs and how research projects are initiated, funded, approved, and tracked.
As an additional note of interest to the insulation industry, ASHRAE is planning a symposium in January, 2005, in Orlando, Fla., on the subject of mechanical insulation. ASHRAE will soon be calling for papers for that Symposium. Its Web address is

For the next ASTM C16 meeting at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City, the forum subcommittee is planning on a Monday Night Forum on April 19 on the topic of "Using Insulation for Noise Control."


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

  • Bill Brayman, Brayman Insulation Consultants, LLC

  • Kartik Patel, Armacell, LLC
  • Ken Wharlow, Tutco
  • John Mumaw, Owens Corning