Steve Heye of Heatshield Products Shares his Insight on Insulation Products
Header and exhaust insulation products are commonly one of the least understood ingredients in creating and sustaining horsepower in your street and strip vehicle. Heatshield Products, which has been in the thermal insulation business serving the performance and racing industry for more than 25 years, has a complete line of products for all sorts of applications that will give your ride the additional horsepower we all crave. Steve Heye, Vice President of Heatshield Products, shares with us some great technical information about exhaust wraps and aluminum reflective products and provides his insight into the advantages of outfitting your vehicle with them.
Exhaust Wrap – There is not any exhaust wrap that I am aware of (other than our Inferno Wrap) that will take 2000F temperatures. Most wraps are fiberglass based, fiberglass is capable of 2000F for less than 30 seconds. When people see another fiberglass wrap advertised as 2000F, they will say hey okay, I’ll wrap my downpipe. Well the reality is, fiberglass is good for 1000F continuous (service temperature), you can coat it, heat treat it, etc, to make it capable of withstanding 1200F continuous max, but that’s about it. There is a wrap out there, made of the same basalt mineral as our lava wrap, but again falsely advertised at a service/continuous temperature of 1800F. Basalt is a mineral by product of magma/lava. Lava has an average temperature range of 1800F-2100F, so being able to sustain temperatures of 1800F without any physical changes to the wrap is extremely questionable. Basalt was actually the former Soviet Union’s answer to Kevlar. While basalt wraps are about 25% stronger than fiberglass, they didn’t have the strength that Kevlar does, they do have much better thermal properties than Kevlar. I am sure you have heard people complain about their wrap getting brittle and fall apart, they have the falsely advertised temperature ratings to thank for it. If you ever hear someone complain about it, steer them to our Inferno Wrap, or HP Armor. The Inferno is a Silica product, good for 2000F continuous (service temp), 3000F peak, and the armor is a ceramic product goodfor 1800F continuous (service temp), 2200F peak.
Aluminum reflective products – Again, some advertise they are good for 2000F. Well aluminum melts at 1220F (elemental chart), so I don’t know how it’s possible it can sustain 2000F. While everyone’s products are very similar there are some differences. We use both the standard aluminum cloth, and what is often referred to as a “S” glass cloth in the textile industry. The S style cloth, is more expensive than the regular cloth, but it reflects a little better than the standard stuff. That is why we make our sleevings from this “S” style cloth. Not only does it look much nicer, it is easier to work with, it weighs 40% less than the grainy stuff, and it reflects a little more heat than the standard “grainy” looking stuff you see. The only time the “S” cloth style isn’t as good as the grainy, is when it is used with less than 1” of airspace, in instances where you have less than 1” a thicker sleeving works better, like the grainy. But if a person had less than 1” of airspace, I would recommend an different type of sleeving all together.
Keeping your fuel system cool – These are just a few examples of bad information, some interesting examples of unknown information are why you should keep fuel cool. People have known for years, it’s a good idea to keep fuel cool, but few know why. Fuel is made of 100’s of chemicals, some of these chemicals have low boiling temperatures, some have higher temperatures. The chemicals that have low boiling temperatures detonate easier than those with higher temperatures. By keeping your fuel cool, you help to maintain the chemical balance, and help keep your vehicle performing at the high level you tuned it for. For fuel injected systems, it’s important to even shield the return line, if it goes unprotected it can increase the temperature in the fuel cell. Over a long endurance race, that can cause some major changes to your fuels chemical balance.
Generally speaking, results can vary, but on a 300+ hp motor, for every degree of air intake temperature decreased, you can see up to a full HP gain. People know to wrap their exhaust, to keep the exhaust gases hot, but keeping your air/fuel temperatures cool, is a big deal to. Basic concept is, cool going in, hotter than Hades coming out.