When many people think of high temperature insulators, heavy brick, hard and thick ceramic tile and asbestos materials often come to mind. But many industrial equipment applications cannot withstand the weight of heavier insulators. In other cases equipment may need a flexible insulator that contours to the shape of the machinery used. When engineers need a lightweight, flexible material to protect from excessive temperatures, they look to ceramic fiber paper, or CF paper.
Ceramic fiber is a mixture of aluminum and silicon. Through a special fiber washing process, the materials are liquefied and blended together. In the washing process impurities are removed. It is then heated and formed into large, thin sheets. The dried product is then spun into large rolls between 24 and 48 inches in width, much like roofing paper. For higher temperature resistance, zircon is used in place of alumina.
Despite thicknesses as thin as 1/32 of an inch, CF paper can insulate against temperatures as high as 2300 degrees F. and continuous temperatures as high as 2000 degrees. Average thickness ranges from 1/32 of an inch to ¼ of an inch. Ziconia based CF paper has even higher thermal resistance properties and is able to protect against temps as high as 2600 degrees.
Because impurities are removed CF paper retains both uniform thickness and chemical composition. The latter characteristic is critical, because at extreme temperatures, even small weaknesses over the surface area of the insulation can create a disaster. Additionally, CF paper normally shows excellent corrosion resistance.
The applications of are virtually limitless. CF paper can be bonded to many flat surfaces such as kiln decks and oven doors. It can also be used as a lining for receptacles in extreme temperature settings. It can also be used to wrap metal tubing or piping. Electronic wiring and conduit can be wrapped when needed and unevenly contoured electrical components can be covered with CF paper sheeting.
It is often used as a fire protection material or a spark protection barrier when combustible materials are close by. Finally, CF paper can be cut and shaped into gaskets and seals. The shaped CF gasket can then be used as a thermal barrier between metal components or metal and glass components. When weight constrictions are present or where non uniform equipment requires thermal protection, CF paper is becoming the popular choice.