# Ice as pipe insulation?

Ice as pipe insulation???

OK so this is a problem me and some co-workers have been discussing. We have refrigeration pipelines that are about 15°F. It is very hot and humid here (assume about 90°F and 75% humidity) so condensation often forms on the pipes and freezes. Thinking of it as a pure heat transfer problem (like you would typically do in an undergraduate heat transfer class) I would guess the ice would offer a miniscule amount of "insulation". However, I could also see looking at it as a part of the equilibrium with the air and it not actually changing anything from a heat transfer perspective.

Any thoughts? Suggestions?

FYI: The thermal conductivity of ice is about 2.3 W/m*K and insulation is typically about 0.04 W/m*K

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Yes, I'm guessing it would offer insulation. The outside layer of the ice will be at 32 F, so it should slow down the heat transfer rate.

Assuming the temperatures and ice thickness are constant, this would be a fairly simple heat transfer problem.

If there were no ice, you would be concerned only with convection of air. This could be either natural or forced convection (is the air flowing quickly?).

In the ice case, you will have to take a logarithmic average to calculate an "overall" heat transfer coefficient.

You could calculate the heat transfer rates in each if you knew the air "velocity", or if it's just calm air.

NascentOxygen
Staff Emeritus