Geert Vriesacker has worked at BASF Antwerp since 1997. With a team of 38 supervisors and many hundreds of contractors, he controls sustainability, safety, and process reliability for the largest chemical production plant in Belgium. One of his priorities is the prevention of corrosion under insulation (CUI) in the 1,200km of pipes at the site. A three-year practical test with ROCKWOOL WR-Tech™ technology provided valuable information for CUI prevention. According to Vriesacker: “Practical tests such as these provide us, as a potential user, with the facts so we can see whether products function to specification or even better.”

Geert has been responsible for corrosion prevention and control, insulation, and platform/scaffolding construction at BASF Antwerp since 1997. His department ensures that all piping, tanks, and fittings are in tip-top condition through a programme of maintenance, repairs, and quality checks. To achieve this, the site’s more than 50 systems are covered day-to-day by about 1,000 contractors. Vriesacker heads a department of about 38 supervisors, whose job it is to ensure the contractors carry out their duties correctly. “The Committee Industrial Insulation (CINI) standard is the basic international standard for industrial insulation, which we supplement with our own specifications to deliver the desired level of performance,” says Vriesacker.

Maintenance of pipes and systems is a never-ending duty. “We work based on planned schedules. The production site is divided into different zones. For example, the zone around the cracker measures 10x5m,” continues Vriesacker. “We use the most effective approach: inspection, scaffolding construction, followed by repair or replacement.”

The cracker receives a major service once every five years; other systems, every three, five or seven years, based on safety, process, and legal guidelines and standards. “We always start with a visual inspection,” explains Vriesacker. “Then we remove the insulation. Depending on what we discover, we will fix a section or all of the line. If we suspect any corrosion, we deal with it immediately, even if the pipe or area is not scheduled for maintenance until a later date.”


According to Geert Vriesacker of BASF Antwerp, “practical tests – such as those run on ROCKWOOL WR-Tech™ – provide us, as the potential user, with the facts, so we can see whether products function to specification or even better. We also test coatings in the field, so we can analyse the results.” This approach to testing has led BASF Antwerp to specify the application of ROCKWOOL products, which have become an integral element of its CUI-prevention policy.

CUI prevention

Temperatures in the pipes at BASF Antwerp range from extremes of -180°C to 1,110°C, but about 70%  of thermal insulation covers temperatures between 50°C and 600°C. The company utilises stone wool for this purpose. Cellular glass and Polyisocyanurate (PIR) are used for the coldest applications; ceramic wools and other products for the highest temperatures. Insulation minimises heat loss and plays a major – even critical – role in issues such as process reliability, safety, energy control, and plant integrity, as well as investment and operating costs. 

BASF Antwerp was built in 1964. “In recent years, CUI has become the main focus point,” says Vriesacker. “Annually, we spend much time and energy on CUI prevention. We plan our inspection work schedules years in advance, particularly for the cracker, as this is such an essential part in our production process. Everything must function properly, safely, securely, and trouble free.” 

After three years of use, the ProRox® WR-Tech™ test section scored 0.1kg/m² water absorption, well within the limits of European standard EN 13472 (<1kg/ m²). This value also remains within the standard of <0.2kg/m² imposed by ROCKWOOL on its own products, which includes a safety margin as standard. 

ROCKWOOL WR-Tech™ insulation after three years at 120°C to 140°C.

WR-Tech™ is a water-repellency technology developed by ROCKWOOL Technical Insulation, which is specialised in developing custom insulation solutions for industry. WR-Tech™ is supplied as standard on the company’s main product groups for insulation (pipe sections, wired mats). Thanks to its water-repellent properties, WR-Tech significantly contributes to the prevention of CUI. In addition, the fibrous structure of ProRox PS 960 pipe sections naturally allows moisture to evaporate. This results in the lowest-possible water absorption, even over long periods of time and in applications that experience cycles of heating and cooling. The technology thus minimises moisture absorption into the insulation system, while preserving long-term insulating performance.


Geert Vriesacker, BASF, and Rony Blommaert, regional sales manager for Belgium at ROCKWOOL.