JANUARY POWER MANUFACTURE AWARD WINNER: COX HONEYLAND

With a new year comes a new winner of Powerblanket’s Power Manufacture Award. For the month of January, Cox Honeyland has been chosen to receive this prestigious recognition. We’ve noticed their manufacturing prowess in creating some of the most delicious honey in the Mountain West, and felt the world needed to be aware of this outstanding manufacturer.

Cox Honeyland Power Manufacture Award

Cox Honeyland is a family-run honey business based in Logan, Utah. The company began in St. George, Utah, back in the early 1900s, where members of the Cox family created a bee keeping empire in the desert. Cox Honeyland is the modern incarnation of that same idea, raising bees and churning out honey for the world to enjoy.

One of the unique aspects of honey from Cox Honeyland is the nature of their nectar.  According to the company’s website, their bees travel across the northern Utah mountains to collect nectar from flower blossoms that result in three particular flavors of honey: Clover-Alfalfa (light and mild), Cache Valley (darker with more flavor), and Mountain Snowberry (mountain wildflower flavor). With that honey, Cox Honeyland manufactures a wide variety of products such as beeswax lip balm, honey popcorn and fruited creamed honey.

A spokesperson for Cox Honeyland said the reason they’ve been in business for over 100 years is because of their high manufacturing standards.

“We value our customers and are consistent and dependable,” the spokesperson said, adding that Cox Honeyland is already recognized for many local and state awards for their entrepreneurship. The company is also the recipient of the Golden Hive Award, issued for outstanding beekeeping.

Cox Honeyland will be one of many of this year’s Power Manufacture Award winners. Representatives from Powerblanket will be delivering an award plaque and issuing a Power Manufacture Award badge for Cox Honeyland’s website. The honey manufacturer will also be in the running for the 2019 Power Manufacturer of the Year.

If you’d like to nominate your business for the Power Manufacture Award, contact Powerblanket at [email protected].

Power Manufacture Award

Tracks on Fire: Keeping Train Tracks Thawed

Winter has a habit of freezing progress in its tracks. Snow and ice can make roads unsafe to travel on, bury runways, and cause fuels to thicken. Even railroads can’t escape the damage done by Jack Frost.

In fact, railroads have to deal with some of the most dangerous effects of snow and ice. Track switches that freeze up lead to costly delays, as well as the potential for derailments. Keeping tracks thawed and switches ice-free is critical for operating a safe and efficient railroad.  

The Long Island Railroad uses a variety of methods to keep their switches from freezing, even by setting their rails on fire. According to the Long Island Railroad blog, electricity, natural gas, kerosene oil and a hydrocarbon oil called Hexane, are used every winter across the railway to ensure switches are thawed and operational.

rail heating
Gas heating along a rail line keeps the tracks thawed and operational.

These days on the LIRR, most switch heaters are electric. They are made up of high resistance metal bars that are bolted to the sides of the running rail. One end is grounded to the running rail and the other end is tied to the third rail through a knife switch in a little box. Most are activated onsite, but there are some that are remote controlled.

rail heating
Workers monitor tracks as they thaw with help from natural gas.

The gas powered switch heaters are older: vestiges from an age when electric power was expensive and unreliable and gas was cheap. The gas powered heaters would keep a place like Jamaica open even if electric power failed. Today the gas heaters use natural gas that is provided by the utility companies (at one time they used manufactured gas from coal). The gas to these heaters is supplied by a one-and-a-half inch pipe with a globe valve down in a pit near the switch. A mechanic from the LIRR’s Buildings and Bridges department turns on the gas and lights it with a fuse. Then the winds blow it out.

rail heating
Some railroads use a snowblower to thaw rails. The heat blast eliminates ice build up, but the process is slow.

These days it is the gas heaters which are less than reliable; they blow out in high wind and have to be re-lit (a tricky task in the middle of rush hour).

The LIRR still also uses the really old “switch pots” which are filled with kerosene and burn a wick under the switch points. These are maintained by the track department. Trackmen work through the storms filling and lighting these.

And no story about switches and ice can be complete without mentioning “switch oil.” To thaw out frozen switches, trackmen use Hexane, a hydrocarbon oil that is dumped along the rail from a long snouted can that looks like a flower watering can. Another trackman follows the first with a blazing broom that was soaked in the stuff which he uses to light up the oiled switches. The goop burns for fifteen minutes, effectively de-icing the frozen switch. 

ground thawing warming blanket
Ground thawing blankets eliminate the need for costly heating systems and are easily portable.

There is an easier way, of course, to keep rail switches thawed during winter storms. Introducing: Powerblanket Extra-Hot Ground Thawing Blankets. These provide a cheaper, more efficient method to prevent delays that come from iced tracks.

Simply plug the blanket into an electrical source, and the thawing begins. With a preset of 150 ͒ F, the rapid thaw blanket is a maintenance-free heating solution that reduces downtime, eliminates headaches associated with frozen ground, and saves money.

Reliance on manual labor or antiquated heating methods can stay where they belong: in the past. Use the Extra-Hot Ground Thawing Blankets to keep rail switches thawed, passengers safe, and trains on time.

Power Manufacturer of the Year: Taffy Town

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Powerblanket is happy to announce the inaugural winner of 2018’s Power Manufacturing Award of the Year: Taffy Town! The Power Manufacturing Award of the Year is chosen out of that year’s monthly winners, based on their excellent standard of manufacturing and innovation. Taffy Town continues to succeed in their example of positivity and deviation from the status quo, and are a clear choice for this year’s winner!  

taffy town After a year to look at many candidates in the Utah Manufacturing Industry, Taffy Town has caught their industry’s attention. This is the second recognition Taffy Town has received for manufacturing excellence, the first being in January 2018 as the Power Manufacturer of the month. We were able to spotlight many amazing manufacturers this year who are doing amazing things in business and manufacturing, so choosing a winner for this award was difficult. In the end however, Taffy Town became the clear choice.

The Power Manufacturing Award is given to companies that display standard-setting trends in manufacturing. Based in West Jordan, UT, the company has 50 employees and creates more than 20,000 pounds of taffy every day, with sales across the globe.

As reported in January of 2018, Taffy Town does not use the traditional taffy-pulling process that some may remember seeing in store windows. Instead, they have a competitive edge by using a whipping process and 24 hour-long batch conditioning process to produce a soft texture taffy that melts in your mouth. Their products contain no peanuts and no tree nuts, and they are gluten free and use kosher dairy. However, their commitment to their top quality product and 100-year old tradition is what won them the title of Power Manufacture of the Year.

Congratulations to our fellow manufacturers at Taffy Town!

 

*Know of a manufacturing business who are doing amazing things? Nominate them for The Power Manufacturing Award! Simply contact us with the details and they will be in the running!

 

All About Concrete Cracking Repair

Concrete gets old with age, just like we do. When laid correctly, concrete doesn’t really pose any problems until the cracking and wearing part of the life cycle begins. Concrete cracking happens naturally, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. 

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Cracking is a constant in concrete. Nearly every slab of concrete ever laid will feature cracking at some point. This can lead to a series of important questions:

  • What is causing the cracking?
  • Is the structural integrity of my concrete compromised due to cracking?
  • Can cracking be repaired without replacing the concrete?
  • What can be done next time to help mitigate cracking?

Concrete Cracking Causes

The Concrete Network lists five causes of concrete cracking: excess water in concrete mix, rapid drying of concrete, improper strength concrete poured, lack of control joints, and poor ground conditions before pouring.

  1. Excess water in concrete mix: Concrete shrinks as it dries thanks to the water within the concrete mix evaporating. Though water is an important part of the concrete mixture, too much water will create a “soupy” concrete mix. When the water evaporates, the remaining concrete shrinks to maintain its strength. According to the Concrete Network, “concrete slabs can shrink as much as 1/2 inch per 100 feet. This shrinkage causes forces in the concrete which literally pull the slab apart. Cracks are the end result of these forces.”

    The best way to mitigate cracking of this type from happening is to be careful with how much water is added to your concrete mix. A low water-to-cement ratio will go a long way in preventing cracking.
  2. Rapid drying of concrete: Concrete will often not be able to achieve its maximum strength if it cures too fast. Hydration is the chemical reaction that allows the cement mixture to absorb water, changing from a liquid mixture into a solid slab. This process can take days, even weeks to become stiff enough to achieve desired strengths. Using a concrete curing blanket can allow less impact from external variables that affect concrete drying.

    Powerblanket image
  3. Improper strength of concrete poured: Not all cement mixes are created equally. Different mixes suit different purposes. You can bet that the concrete slab you poured to make the kids’ basketball court is a different strength than the Normandy bunkers stormed by the Allies on D-Day. Pouring the wrong strength of concrete can set you up for cracking. Check with your concrete provider to ensure you’re using the right strength of concrete for your project.
  4. Lack of control joints: Control joints let you choose where the cracking occurs. By allowing for spacing between concrete slabs, you can make sure cracks happen in straight lines and don’t spread due to temperature fluctuations and movement.

    Image taken from Concrete Construction Magazine

    When control joints aren’t used, cracking will happen in the most natural way possible with no direction from you. Cutting control joints must be done within 12 hours of pouring concrete, or as soon as the concrete has hardened.

  5. Poor ground conditions: Do not pour concrete on frozen ground. The poured concrete will bind to the ice inside of the frozen soil, and will become unbound once the ice melts. If you have to pour concrete in cold weather conditions, use a ground thawing blanket to get ground surfaces to the right temperature. This will ensure proper joining of ground and cement layers. The ground should also be dry, so make sure you’re not pouring concrete into a puddle or saturated soil.

Cracking Impacts Concrete

Structural integrity is what concrete is all about. Properly evaluating the impact of cracking can help you decide if your structure is sustainable, or if you need to replace that part of the project with another concrete pour. Opting to repair your concrete is feasible only once it’s been confirmed there are no structural issues.

Image taken from www.nextstartech.com

Repairing Cracks

Concrete Construction says that if you’ve noticed cracking in your concrete, you’ll want to follow several steps before taking any repair measures:

“Before repairing your next crack, perform a crack evaluation and establish the repair objectives. Decide what type of repair is needed. Choices include a structural repair using epoxy, a route and seal repair using a flexible sealant to accommodate future crack movements, and a hard or semi-rigid filler repair to support crack edges, with or without routing. Also, establish the cosmetic requirements. After choosing the repair material and procedure, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.”

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After completing the crack repair, reassess the area to see how you can blend the look of the repair back into the concrete, giving your project a smoother look.

Cracking: It’s Going to Happen

Though repairing cracking will allow for longer-lasting strength for your concrete, mitigating excessive cracking from happening in the first place is best. It can’t be stopped, but it can be controlled. Refer to the above guide next time you’re on a concrete job to make sure you have all your concrete cracking bases covered.

Check out Powerblanket’s concrete solutions here.

Cold Coconuts: Prevent heat loss with Coconut Blankets

Different jobs come in different sizes, and Powerblanket serves them all. Some jobs are as simple as heating up a 5-gallon bucket, and they’re just as important. So when Dan McFarland at BodyTech Cosmetics needed a solution to a freezing problem with coconut oil, he turned to those who do it best. 

BodyTech Cosmetics, which manufactures handmade skin care products, realized it had a need for Powerblanket’s Coconut Blanket to help maintain temperatures for a key ingredient. Without it, McFarland wouldn’t be able to maintain the high quality of his products. 

We use a lot of coconut oil,” McFarland said, adding that he usually used a microwave or other methods to warm up his oil. He also said doing so was very ineffective. 

At times, McFarland said he had to get creative.

“For a couple of years I had been using an aquarium heater to melt the oil,” he said. The oil is difficult to use when it becomes too thick.

While points are given for innovation, McFarland realized that he needed a solution that was tailor-made to heat up the coconut oil. That’s when he discovered Powerblanket’s Coconut Blanket pail heaters, which he says completely changed the game.

“By keeping out coconut oil melted in the pail it saves having to use a microwave or other inefficient means of melting it,” he said.

The Coconut Blanket is an affordable, dependable warming wrap. Just like BodyTech Cosmetic’s products each pail heater is handcrafted, and can quickly heat up to a maximum temperature of 145º F. The insulated full-wrap design evenly heats material to a steady temperature. It also meets UL and CSA safety standards.

No matter how small the job, Powerblanket’s 5-Gallon Bucket Pail Heater makes a big impact on businesses like BodyTech Cosmetic. For more information, contact a Powerblanket representative today!

Grave Digger Solutions: Unthawing cold ground with Powerblanket

North America experiences a variety of weather patterns during the winter months. However, most of the continent will undergo cold enough temperatures that freeze the upper layers of ground soil.

This can be highly problematic for those needing to dig into the ground during the winter. Projects that normally take a few hours worth of digging now takes days to unthaw and break through the frozen topsoil.

Image taken from www.adventuresincemeteryhopping.com.

Powerblanket’s Ground Thawing Blankets were essential in saving the Hailey Cemetery time and money during the Idaho Winter of 2017. Wayne Burke, maintenance supervisor for the cemetery, said that winter was colder and less wet than years previous, causing the soil to freeze much deeper than normal.

“There’s usually six inches of snow on the ground,” Burke said, adding that the snow acts as a layer of insulation, preventing the ground from freezing as much. “It always worked out great. But last year it got really cold and there was no snow.”

Burke knew he needed solutions fast to meet the demand of the cemetery’s burial service schedule. He reached out to Powerblanket, and within two days of ordering, received his Ground Thawing Blanket.

“You guys sent it just in time. I used it the first day, and only had it on for 12 hours. It still worked,” he said. “A few weeks later, I needed it again. We also loaned it to another cemetery and they were really happy with how it worked too.”

In years prior Burke said he used propane torches to thaw the soil before digging. In addition, the cemetery landscaping had to be torn up and replaced after each dig.

“It worked perfect,” he said. “It thawed about 14 inches down into the ground. The grass greened up and I was able to cut it up into strips and roll it up. The sod was in good shape and I stored it in our garage. After the burial we put the dirt back in a rolled the sod back out. Normally we tear the sod up and throw it away and replant it in the springtime.”

Burke said the Ground Thawing Blanket was exactly what he needed to break through the tough winter soil, saving him hours of manual labor and nearly $100 in landscaping.

“I was really happy with it, and we’ll be using it again this year,” he said.

Stained for Good: The Art of Concrete Staining

Let’s get one thing straight: plain, gray concrete is best used in military bunkers. Other than that, it’s downright boring. What can you do to spice up the gloom into glam? There’s one solution: stain it.

Image taken from www.thatisconcrete.com.

If you’re a parent, the word “stain” probably doesn’t make you think of a beautiful, antique floor. Nonetheless, staining is a great way to turn a slab of gray into luxurious floor that looks like it predates the Civil War. Staining is a great way to turn a slab of gray into luxurious tones of brown, green, even blue. Concrete experts generally use one of two ways to stain concrete: acid and water-based stains. Each one has a specific purpose, but which one should you use?

Pick One

Staining concrete takes time and effort, but the results can be beautiful.

  • Acid stains are made up of metallic salt minerals dissolved into a water-acid mixture. The acids allow for a chemical reaction during the curing process that permanently changes the surface of the concrete in color and texture.
Acid stained porch in Colorado. Image taken from www.denverconcretecompany.net.
  • Non-acid stains treat concrete differently than an acid stain. Instead of altering the structure of the concrete, non-acid stains create a layer over the concrete surface, filling pores and leaving behind a flat, smooth finish.
Non-acid stained concrete. Image taken from www.super-krete.com.

Do Your Prepwork

According to industry experts, the best way to stain concrete is as follows:

  • Thoroughly clean and prepare concrete
  • Apply concrete stain
  • Clean up and neutralize concrete stain
  • Seal concrete for lasting protection

In order to stain concrete, the concrete must be cured to its proper strength. This can take up to 48 hours (which feels more like forever than it actually is), but with concrete curing products this time can be nearly cut in half. Powerblanket’s Concrete Curing Blanket helps keep concrete at stable temperatures above 50°F, making cure time 2.8 times faster than open air curing. This is especially helpful when staining concrete in places where temperatures are variable or close to freezing. Make sure your concrete creation cures correctly.

Once the concrete is cured, you can move on to the staining process. Begin washing down the concrete surface. You won’t want any food crumbs or shoe scuff marks to get in the way of the stain, so make sure to give it a good scrub down. Also remove any layers of glue, sealers or curing membranes that might prevent the stain from contacting the concrete. Finally, apply a concrete acid cleanser to the project surface to ensure the concrete is as porous as possible. Once it has dried, rinse the concrete with water.

Let The Staining Begin

The time has arrived to forever change the way your concrete looks. After the concrete is no longer wet from rinsing, use a brush to spread the stain across the project surface. If it’s a puddle you can splash in (don’t), it’s too thick. If it disappears right after applying it (i.e. it absorbed into the concrete), you need more.

Image taken from www.lovelyimperfection.com, a concrete DIY blog.

Once your initial layer is down, allow 24 hours of drying before doing another layer of stain, even if it’s the same color of stain.

Most stains have difficulty drying in cold temperatures. If you can’t help but do a concrete staining project in the dead of winter, a Concrete Curing Blanket can save the day, allowing the stain to dry within a controlled environment.

Protect Your Project

You’re so close to being done! After the stain has dried, use a sealer or wax to protect the stain from dirt or grime that could change the color or texture over time. You’ll need to regularly clean the project surface, but don’t use powerful chemicals like bleach, vinegar or ammonia. Such solutions can damage stained concrete. And you wouldn’t want that, would you?

Image taken from www.kronion.pw.

Finally, bask in your work. Enjoy the fruit of your labors by eating a large bowl of grapes on your newly stained concrete patio, kitchen counter, table top, or garage floor.

An In-Depth Look at CBD

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of 113 known cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. While CBD as we know it has been around for over 70 years, it has recently skyrocketed in attention and popularity. Unlike THC (another cannabinoid found in cannabis plants), CBD does not cause an altered mental state and may even have huge potential for medical applications. While limited research has been done on CBD, many are hopeful that as research progresses, CBD will become a more readily-available treatment option for issues like epilepsy, pain management, anxiety, depression, and even cancer.

Plant extract oil and plants- CBD is a plant extract from cannabis plants

What is a Cannabinoid?

A cannabinoid is a chemical compound that acts on cannabinoid receptors in cells and alter a neurotransmitter release in the brain. Cannabinoids fall under two categories: endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids.

Endocannabinoids

Endocannabinoids are produced naturally in our bodies and are believed to help regulate important neurological functions. The endocannabinoid system has only recently been recognized for its importance and relatively little is known about it.

Phytocannabinoids

Phytocannabinoids occur naturally in plants. Limited research indicates that phytocannabinoids could help resolve issues that come from endocannabinoid imbalances. Phytocannabinoids are extracted from cannabis plants (marijuana and hemp). The predominate cannabinoids found in cannabis plants are THC and CBD.

 

Cannabis Plants: Marijuana vs. Hemp

Often, the terms “cannabis”, “marijuana”, and “hemp”, are used interchangeably. It is, however, important to understand the differences between the three. “Cannabis” is the family classification that marijuana and hemp fall under. While marijuana and hemp share some similarities, there are some crucial differences between the two. Most notably, while marijuana strains are typically between 15 and 40% Tetrahydrocannabinol  (THC), hemp is less than 0.3% THC. The bulk of hemp’s composition is CBD, accounting for approximately 40% of the plant’s extract.

THC vs. CBD

CBD vs THC

THC and CBD are the predominant cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. Put simply, THC gets you “high,” while CBD is thought to provide more medical applications.

 

THC

THC is the most potent psychotic found in cannabis plants. As mentioned above, it’s found in higher percentages in marijuana. Besides giving you  a “high,” THC can cause feelings of lethargy and dysphoria and may even make anxiety and seizures worse.

 

CBD

CBD does not have intoxicating effects like THC. CBD oil is often used to treat epilepsy and pain. Some claim that CBD relives sleep issues, depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. It may even counteract the psychoactive effects of THC. CBD usage has been linked with side effects like decreased appetite, fatigue, weakness and sleeping problems.

 

A Brief History of CBD

 

While CBD awareness and interest has skyrocketed in recent years, CBD as we know it has been around for over 70 years. Let’s take a quick look it’s history:

 

1940: CBD was first extracted by chemist Roger Adams. It wasn’t until a few years later, however, that Roger Adams realized he may have stumbled upon something useful and began performing further research on the substance.

 

1946: Dr. Walter S. Loewe conducted tests that supported the theory that CBD didn’t cause an altered mental state.

 

1946: Dr. Raphael Mechoulam documented CBD’s three-dimensional structure. Mechoulan is often credited as the scientist who discovered CBD.

 

1960s: The first CBD oil designed for therapeutic use was released by the British Pharmacopoeia

 

1980: Dr. Raphael Mechoulam conducted research that supported the theory that CBD could treat epilepsy.

 

2013: Charlotte Figi, a girl who suffered from chronic seizures, all but eliminated her seizures using high-CBD strain cannabis; her story gained national attention.

 

2017: the FDA advisory panel approved the CBD medication Epidiolex to treat two forms of childhood epilepsy.

 

CBD Today

 

Limited Evidence

Some experts say that evidence for CBD’s benefits is scant. Most claimed benefits of CBD have only been evaluated by one or two human studies and most studies do not compare results to a control group. Some researchers argue that any beneficial effects could simply be a placebo. Furthermore, it’s unclear which specific biochemical interactions are affected by CBD.

This scant evidence, however, is not necessarily because CBD is ineffective; there simply hasn’t been enough reputable research conducted. Many are confident that continued CBD research will confirm the widespread claims of its medicinal potential.

 

What CBD is Used For

What does CBD do? Some of the benefits of CBD

Throughout the world, CBD users claim the phytocannabinoid helps alleviate issues and symptoms like pain, inflammation, anxiety, depression, psychosis, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders. Let’s take a look and some of the most common symptoms CBD is used to treat and the research backing its effectiveness:

 

Epilepsy- Epilepsy is the only condition with significant scientific evidence that supports CBD as a viable treatment option. Three separate clinical trials have indicated that pharmaceutical-grade CBD reduces seizures with minimal side effects. The CBD-based medication Epidiolex is currently used to treat two rare forms of epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

 

Pain/Inflammation- While there hasn’t been enough human trials to confirm CBD’s effect on pain and inflammation, animal trials indicate it could be a successful treatment. Some research has found that CBD reduced levels of chronic inflammation in rats and mice.

 

Anxiety- Some human clinical trials suggest that CBD could be an effective treatment for anxiety disorders including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive–compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

 

Cancer- An article published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology that CBD can prevent cancer cells from spreading. While more research is needed to further support this claim, CBD’s anti-cancer properties are currently being researched throughout the United States.

 

Legality

 

While CBD is legal across the US, states have varying limitations on its use. Where limitations exist, the most important factor in determining legality is whether the CBD is extracted from hemp or marijuana.

 

Even though CBD is legal, lack of regulation can make it difficult and sometimes unsafe to use. Besides Epidiolex, a CBD epilepsy medication, no forms of cannabis are recognized by the FDA. This means that CBD supplements and products are produced without regulation. CBD users must take care to purchase CBD from a reputable distributor; labels may not have the correct information about actual CBD content.

 

Extraction

 

The goal of CBD extraction is to generate a high-concentrate CBD product for potential beneficial use.

 

Timothy Welty, chair of the department of clinical sciences at Drake University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, in Des Moines, Iowa, explains that “CBD is kind of a tricky drug because it’s not very well absorbed orally. Less than 20 percent of the drug is absorbed orally. If it isn’t made in the right way, you may not be getting much drug into your systemic circulation.”

 

CBD Extraction begins with CBD-rich plant material. There are a few different methods for extracting the phytocannabinoids (including CBD) from the plant trimmings. Here are a few of the more popular methods:

 

CO2 Extraction

the CO2 extraction method for CBD extraction

The CO2 Extraction method uses pressurized carbon dioxide to pull phytochemicals from cannabis plants. While this method is extremely effective in producing high-quality CBD oil, it requires expensive machinery and the hand of an experienced chemist.  

First, CO2  gas is turned into a liquid; this is done by dropping the temperature to under -69°F and increasing the pressure to over 75 psi. Next, the temperature and pressure are both raised until the liquid becomes supercritical. Supercritical liquids possess qualities of both a liquid and a gas. This state is ideal for phytochemical extraction because:

  1. Supercritical CO2 can move through materials like gas and
  2. Supercritical CO2 can dissolve materials like a liquid

 

The supercritical CO2 passes through cannabis trimmings in an extraction chamber where it dissolves and collects extracts from the plants. The CO2 / extract solution then enters a lower-pressure separator chamber. The lower pressure causes the CO2  and plant extracts to separate. The CO2 returns to the CO2 chamber and the cannabis oil is drained from the separator.

 

Solvent Extraction

The solvent extraction method for CBD extraction

This simple extraction method works by using ethanol as a solvent to remove extracts from cannabis plant trimmings. While fairly easy, this method can be dangerous (ethanol is extremely flammable) and potentially damage or create harmful toxins within the cannabis extract.

 

First, ethanol is added to trimmings and mixed for a couple of minutes to allow the ethanol to dissolve extracts from the plant materials. Next, the ethanol is strained from the trimmings. Finally, the ethanol/extract mixture is slowly heated until all ethanol evaporates and only the plant extracts remain.

 

Dry Ice/ Ice Water Method

The Ice Water extraction method for CBD extraction

Ice water extraction creates a powdery resin extract often referred to as “hash” or “bubble hash.” This is another fairly easy extraction method that can produce high yields if done correctly. As with other methods, if done poorly, it will produce low-quality product.

 

First, finely-chopped plant trimmings are mixed with either ice or dry ice. This step is supposed to help separate extracts from the plant material. Next, water is added to the ice and trimmings and the entire mixture is strained through a mesh bag. The extracts will settle to the bottom of the strained water. Often, the mixture is strained multiple times through progressively smaller-micron mesh bags until the purest-possible extracts are obtained. Finally, excess water is drained from the strained mixture and the extracts are left to dry.

 

Olive Oil Extraction

Unlike previously mentioned methods, this technique results in cannabis-infused oil, not pure cannabis extract. It’s a popular option for at-home extraction because it’s safe, simple, and inexpensive. Olive oil extraction, however, produces very low yields of cannabis oil.

 

Essentially, cannabis plants are placed in olive oil (or any other cooking oil) and warmed for 1-2 hours. Next, the infused oil is strained from the plant trimmings.  

Temperature Control During Extraction

 

No matter which extraction method is used, careful temperature is control is an important element of high-quality yield. Extreme temperatures can denature CBD. Additionally, some processes require very specific temperatures; if certain steps are not performed at correct temperatures, the extraction process could fail completely.

 

Powerblanket offers a wide range of temperature control solutions that could be the perfect addition to your CBD extraction set-up. Our products are easy to install and remove and won’t disrupt your current process. If you’d like more information, you can give us a call at 888.316.6324.

 

Do you know any interesting facts about CBD we didn’t include in this article? Let us know in the comments!

CBD Extraction Methods

Cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid found in cannabis plants, is becoming more and more popular as an alternative solution to common ailments. Unlike Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another cannabinoid found in cannabis plants, CBD does not have psychoactive effects. When CBD oil is ingested, however, only 20% of it is absorbed. This means that for CBD to be effective, the CBD extraction process must be carried out carefully.

extracted plant oil; CBD is a phytochemical extracted from cannabis plants

There are several options for removing cannabis plant extracts from the plant materials; to be effective, however, each approach must begin with a CBD-rich plant material. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most common CBD extraction methods and the pros and cons of each:

Extraction Methods

CO2 Extraction

CO2 Extraction method for CBD extraction

The CO2 Extraction method uses supercritical carbon dioxide to pull phytochemicals from cannabis plants. Supercritical materials are not quite a liquid but not quite a gas and possess the properties of both. This state is ideal for plant extraction because supercritical CO2 can move through materials like gas and dissolve materials like a liquid.

 

CO2  extraction typically follows these steps:

 

  1. The CO2 is prepared in a compression chamber. First, CO2  gas is turned into a liquid; this is done by dropping the temperature to under -69°F and increasing the pressure to over 75 psi. Next, the the temperature and pressure are both raised until the liquid becomes supercritical.
  2. The supercritical CO2 passes through cannabis trimmings in an extraction chamber where it dissolves and collects extracts from the plants.
  3. The CO2 / extract solution then enters a lower-pressure separator chamber. The lower pressure causes the CO2  and plant extracts to separate. The CO2 returns to the CO2 chamber and the cannabis oil is drained from the separator.

 

CO2  Extraction Pros:

  • Safe when done by professionals- CO2 is used in countless food products and is perfectly safe for consumption
  • Yields high-quality CBD- machines leave very little room for error

CO2  Extraction Cons:

  • Very expensive- setup costs start at approximately $40,000
  • Not for novice chemists- it’s best to leave this method to the professionals

 

Solvent Extraction

Solvent extraction method for CBD extraction

This simple extraction method works by using ethanol as a solvent to remove extracts from cannabis plant trimmings. It usually looks something like this:

 

  1. Ethanol is added to trimmings and mixed for a couple of minutes to allow the ethanol to dissolve extracts from the plant materials.
  2. The ethanol is strained from the trimmings.
  3. The ethanol/extract mixture is slowly heated until all ethanol evaporates and only the plant extracts remain.

 

Solvent  Extraction Pros:

  • Inexpensive- This method doesn’t require any fancy machinery.
  • Simple- This method is pretty straightforward and can even be done at home.

 

Solvent  Extraction Cons:

  • Dangerous- Ethanol is extremely flammable.
  • Could Damage CBD- Ethanol could potentially denature the CBD if overheated or overmixed.

 

Dry Ice/ Ice Water Method

Ice water extraction method for CBD extraction

Ice water extraction creates a powdery resin extract often referred to as “hash” or “bubble hash.” There are several variations to this method, but they all follow these general steps:

 

  1. Finely-chopped plant trimmings are mixed with either ice or dry ice.  This step is supposed to help separate extracts from the plant material.
  2. Water is added to the ice and trimmings and the entire mixture is strained through a mesh bag. (Often, the mixture is strained multiple times through progressively smaller-micron mesh bags until the purest-possible extracts are obtained)
  3. The extracts settle at  the bottom of the strained mixture. The excess water is drained from the top and the extracts are left to dry until they become powdery.

Ice Water Extraction Pros:

  • Inexpensive- Again, no fancy machinery needed!
  • High Yield- If done correctly, this method produces a relatively large amount of plant extract.

Ice Water  Extraction Cons:

  • Not always practical- This method can be labor intensive and time consuming.

 

Olive Oil Extraction

Olive Oil Extraction method for CBD extraction

This technique results in cannabis-infused oil, not pure cannabis extract. It follows these two simple steps:

 

  1. Cannabis plant trimmings are placed in olive oil (or any other cooking oil) and warmed for 1-2 hours.
  2. The infused oil is strained from the plant trimmings.  

Olive Oil Extraction Pros:

  • Easy- This is by far the easiest extraction method and is a popular home option.

 

Olive Oil Extraction Cons:

  • Low Yields- This method produces low yields of heavily diluted CBD.

 

Temperature Control During Extraction

 

Regardless of the method used, careful temperature is control is an important element of high-quality yield in CBD extraction. Extreme temperatures damage CBD. Additionally, many processes need specific temperatures to have success; if ideal temperatures are not maintained, the extraction process could completely flop.

Powerblanket offers the best of the best when it comes to total temperature control. Our products are easy to install and remove and won’t disrupt your current process. Additionally, our products are made to order and can be customized to fit your specific needs.  If you’d like more information, you can give us a call at 888.316.6324.

 

Do you have a favorite CBD extraction method we forgot to mention? Let us know in the comments!

Putting a Roof Over Their Heads

A Brief History of the Roofing Industry

The Greeks and Romans were the first to experiment with different roofing styles. When they began to conquer parts of Britain, they utilized slating and tiling to endure the rainy climate. It is indisputable that a roof is an essential component of any dwelling.  Through innovation, there are many different roofing styles. Most of the changes in roofing materials have developed in the last 200 years. Although people generally still use the most available materials for the region. Wood and metal are used in the southern part of North America, slate in the northeast, wood in the Midwest and tile in the southwestern part of North America.

Now we are seeing technological advances in glass, polymer and smog absorbing tiles.

Timeline of Modern Roofing Materials and Systems

Most of the materials and systems available to us today began to take shape in the 1900’s.

    • 1896 – Barrett Manufacturing Co. developed the alternating application of layers to produce an impenetrable foundation that we know today. This changed the shape of buildings, allowing for roofs to take on both a flat and pitched appearance.
    • 1910– It is difficult to put a finger on who really created the asphalt shingle. The H.M. Reynolds Company of Grand Rapids, MI, claimed to have invented the product, but it’s hard to prove. However, asphalt shingles enter the story in the early 1900’s–making it possible to roll and stretch the compound into a material that could be cut into shingles. Since their conception, asphalt shingles quickly replaced wood shingles because of their endurance.
    • 1925 – Clay tiling is one of the oldest forms of roofing materials and predates asphalt shingles. Over the years it has been improved in both style and shape. By 1925, the product was rebranded as an “ancient” material and catalogs from that time give evidence of their popularity in residential architecture.
    • 1930 – Slate roofing was used in northeastern U.S. and parts of Canada where it’s readily available. Contractors encourage the use not just because it was available but it was impervious to the harsh weather conditions. It’s a weighted material that does well with steep pitches. The trend of slate took off in the 30’s and could be seen on many residential and commercial properties across the U.S.
    • 1936 – A manufacturing company from Nevada changed roofing materials for the better. Homeowners wanted the look of clay tiles but not the weight or the cost. W.F. Norman Manufacturing Co. utilized the flexibility of metal’s design to construct stamped sheet metal roof tiles. It was the bridge between functionality and design.
    • 1939 – Republic Steel Co. decided that small individual metal panels added unnecessary weight. So, they formed large corrugations that spanned a longer distance. It reduced the volume of metal needed to provide the superior protection they are known for delivering.
  • 1957 — Red Cedar Shingle Bureau.  Cedar shingles commonly topped residential structures through the 19th century but were supplanted in popularity in the 20th century by asphalt. The shingle typology has been revived in the 21st century for roofing and siding applications, typically in higher-end projects.

Roofing Today:  Issues Faced by Modern Roofers

Training and Workers in Roofing

There is some really good training that happens in the roofing industry today — and there is some really poor training, too. The NRCA offers several training options that can be completed online or in person and hands-on.  There is training for roofing technology, roofing safety and professional development. The resources appear to be available; however, contractors need to buy in to the importance of introductory and ongoing professional training.  It would also be highly beneficial if the industry had a training standard. This shift in attitude is what the roofing industry needs to recruit the kind of people needed in the industry.

One of the biggest challenge roofers face is finding workers at all levels. The United states is getting older as a county and roofing is not post-retirement work. The field workforce today is almost 60 percent Latino, and the current immigration climate is affecting roofers’ ability to employ workers. Without a recognized and standard training program, roofing fails to create a foundation and tell the story of how rewarding it can be.

Major Changes in Industry

There are two. One is referred to as the “green building” movement.  Thirty years ago, roofing technology was primarily concerned with keeping water out of buildings. Today, roofers must understand long-term thermal properties, reflectivity, vegetative roof systems and the integration of photovoltaics into roof systems. That’s a big change.  Along with understanding, roofers need to be aware of tax credits and different programs available in their areas that encourage more efficient and sustainable roofing systems.

The second major change is the natural vertical integration of the industry. Years ago, it was not uncommon for contractors, distributors and manufacturers to fight with one another. Happily, the industry is moving much closer to alignment in all sectors.

Pricing

Roofers need to find the balance in pricing to offer a fair price to customers while maintaining value in the business. A top quality roof along with a great experience for customers should not also be the lowest price.  The saying, “you get what you pay for,” is a truth in contracting and construction. Many roofing companies do not have big enough margins to even keep their company running for more than a few years, so it is important to establish a dependable and admirable reputation in order to have staying power.  

Safety

OSHA continues to pass more strict safety laws. It’s important to be looking ahead and plan for the future. Roofers do not always agree with everything that OSHA passes, but unfortunately that doesn’t change the fact that they are the ones who have the authority to enforce the laws.

Roofers must be educated about the latest safety requirements and implement them as necessary to keep your employees safe and your company safe from violations and fines.

Winter Roofing and Dancing with Temperature Demands

According to Mitch Dickinson, a roofing contractor, “A roof will look the best in the conditions it was installed.”  There are few professional roofers, if any, that would dispute that claim. A winter installation will always look the best in the winter.  A summer install is the same. Temperature has such a great impact on the materials, unless you live in a climate with little to no temperature fluctuation, your roof will experience changes.  Cold temperatures change the roofing game completely. There are multiple things to consider and plan for when the mercury drops and people need a roof over their heads.

  • Frost on Rooftops can set back start time, progress, and hamper safety of crew.  Most of the time crews tarp a roof, or roof section, one-two days prior to beginning a job to prevent frost.
  • When the shingle company delivers materials, they typically leave the shingles on the roof–ready for install.  If there is even a little frost, they will not deliver to the roof. This adds more time for the crew to move shingle boxes from the ground to the roof for install.
  • There are multiple pieces of roofing equipment that freeze up or quit completely under cold conditions:  compressors, nail guns, etc. Often a crew will take 10+ nail guns on a job because they freeze up and quit so frequently, and they don’t want the job to be stalled.  A new nail gun in the winter will sometimes only make it one job. Whereas, that same gun would have lasted all spring and summer and probably into the fall.
  • Being employed during the winter months is frustrating because crews will sometimes spend two hours shoveling snow off of a roof to only have four hours of good daylight to actually work.  And after shoveling the snow, they are exhausted and cold. January and February are not profitable months for roofers.
  • The expansion and contraction of materials is a big concern.  Vinyl siding, shingles, rain gutter, and metal roofing all expand or contract based on temperature.  Materials installed in the winter can/do buckle, curl, warp, and ripple in the heat of the summer. It is difficult to install materials in cold temperatures and account for the way they will grow in the heat.  Many winter jobs will inevitably require summer repairs/maintenance.
  • Some companies use an enclosed trailer with a heater to heat vinyl siding in the hopes that they can avoid excessive pitfalls of installing vinyl in cold conditions.  It’s an okay fix, but by the time the material is unloaded, cut, and properly installed it has lost a lot of the heat they worked to give it.
  • When the roof is cold and the ambient temperature is cold, adhesives are not only thick and hard to apply, they also won’t adhere to the roofing surface at all.  It’s almost like they lose their stickiness.
  • If a dump trailer that is full of materials is exposed to moisture, rain, snow, it often freezes and then it cannot be dumped until the whole trailer thaws.  
  • Most roofing materials are warranted as long as installed above 40°F.  When it’s cold, roofers cannot guarantee the viability of the product or install.

Winter Roofing Solutions

Many roofing companies have come up with their own creative methods for working in winter weather conditions.

  • To keep materials such as shingles and adhesives warm, some roofers will build a makeshift box that can house a heater in order to keep materials at a workable and warranted temperature.  This box may be a place to keep equipment warm as well.
  • Another solution for warming materials is to have a large enclosed trailer that has a heater. In this case, it is imperative to have proper ventilation if using a gas powered heater.
  • Tarping a roof a few days prior to starting a job will ensure easier snow removal and safety for employees when the job is started.
  • A frozen dump trailer, if warmed overnight in a heated shop, will enable dumping the next day.  You will have a giant puddle in your garage, but you will also have use of the trailer.
  • Powerblanket manufactures hot boxes, propane warmers and caulk warmers that can all prevent delays on the job.

Spray Foam Insulation: Properties and Benefits

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Polyurethane spray (spray foam) is an excellent option for building insulation. The r-value for spray foam 3.2-3.8 per inch for open cell polyurethane foam and 5-6.5 for closed cell which means it provides impressive thermal resistance properties. Additionally, polyurethane spraying provides moisture protection and soundproofing properties.

Person using polyurethane spray foam insulation to insulate building structure.

What Is Spray Polyurethane Foam?

Polyurethane spray, or spray polyurethane foam (SPF) is a chemical product comprised of isocyanate and polyol resin; when these two components are combined, the chemical reaction causes the mixture to expand up to 30-60 times its liquid volume.

Polyurethane spraying is often used as an alternative to traditional insulation (i.e. fiberglass insulation) in building and construction. It can be sprayed directly onto roof tiles or concrete slabs, into wall cavities or into holes drilled into walls. Most commonly, it’s used in roofing and wall insulation applications.

R-Value for Spray Foam

Long Term Thermal Resistance (LTTR) of spray foam is measured in r-value. Put simply, r-value demonstrates a material’s ability to resist heat flow. The higher the r-value, the better the thermal resistance. The r-value of spray foam ranges from approximately 3.2 to 6.5 per inch and is heavily dependant on the type of spray foam being used.

(R-Value SVG Image)

The formula to determine the r-value for spray foam

Two Types of SPF

Spray Polyurethane Foam falls into two categories: closed cell and open cell.

Medium-Density Closed-Cell Spray Foam

Medium-Density Closed-Cell Spray Foam (ccSPF) otherwise known as 2 lb foam is dense and rigid. It boasts some pretty impressive properties and benefits. For example, its r-value (thermal resistance) ranges from about 5-6.5 per inch. By comparison, the r-value of traditional fiberglass insulation is about 3-4 per inch. Additionally, when installed at a thickness of at least 2 inches, it becomes a barrier to both air and vapor transfer. This prevents heat transfer via air and mold or mildew issues that can arise from unwanted moisture. Also, closed-cell spray foam rigidity makes it an excellent option or exposed walls or other exposed applications. It’s durable enough to hold up against regular wear and tear without needing repair. The drawback is that ccSPF can be difficult to work with. After the insulation process, it can be difficult to make any changes.

Light-Density Open-Cell Spray Foam

Light-Density Open-Cell Spray Foam (ocSPF), commonly referred to as ½ lb foam, is semi-rigid; while it holds its shape extremely well, it’s sponge-like after installation and can be crushed in your hand. As it expands and dries, it creates small open cells that fill with carbon dioxide. While its r-value isn’t as high as closed-cell foam, it still has great thermal resistance properties with an r-value around 3.2-3.8 per inch. When applied in a thickness of at least 3 inches, it acts as an air barrier. Unlike its closed-cell counterpart, ocSPF cannot become a vapor barrier. While not quite as thermally resistant as closed-cell foam, open-cell spray foam is more sound-dampening. Because it’s less dense and applied more thickly, it effectively absorbs more sound waves.

Benefits

Building frame with some spray foam insulation.

Because spray foam has such great thermal resistance properties, it provides some pretty impressive benefits. The pros of using spray foam insulation over traditional fiberglass insulation include:

 

Save on Energy Costs

According the the US Department of Energy, 40% of home energy loss happens via air infiltration through walls, doorways, and windows. Spray foam creates an air barrier that minimizes this air permeation.

 

Better Insulation

Spray foam insulation insulates up to 50% better than traditional insulation. It blocks conductive, radiant and convective heat transfer; this makes it easier to keep rooms at comfortable temperatures. As mentioned earlier, the r-value (thermal resistance) of spray foam is approximately 3.2-3.8 per inch for open cell foam and 5-6.5 for closed cell.

 

Moisture Protection

Because spray foam can fill in every nook and cranny of the space into which it’s sprayed, it provides excellent moisture protection. Moisture protection prevents expensive issues and damage such as mold, mildew, and rotting wood.

 

Noise Reduction

Polyurethane spray  provides an effective barrier to airborne sound. When used as wall insulation, it hinders sound movement from room to room.

Getting the Most From Your Spray Foam

 

When spray foam materials and equipment get either too hot or too cold, product waste and equipment malfunctions can easily occur. Spray foam cylinder pressure fluctuates with temperature; when the pressure gets too high or dips too low, the cylinder will stop working optimally. Cold conditions can be especially frustrating. Pressure drops as temperatures go down and even though it seems like there is plenty of product remaining, inadequate pressure will render it unusable.  Keeping things at ideal temperatures helps to make polyurethane spray go as far as possible.

Powerblanket spray foam heaters help eliminate temperature and pressure issues with your equipment. They cover the entire spray foam cylinder which maximizes the effectiveness of temperature maintenance. If you’re interested in maximizing the yield of your spray foam equipment, give us a call at 888.316.6324.

Hot and Cold: Melting Points for Common Baking Ingredients

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When you think of molasses and honey, you probably think of Memaw’s cookies over clogged pipes and industrial concrete blankets. Well, welcome to Powerblanket, where new applications for our electric blankies pop up like daisies. Customers including…bakeries? There is a long list of common baking ingredients that congeal, harden, thicken, freeze, or crystallize as temperatures drop. Coming from a perspective of manufacturers, packaging, and shipping, this can be a problem. They need heat to keep them liquid and transportable. Check out some of the melting points of common baking ingredients.

Runny Honey: What is Honey Made of?

Honey is made of different complex and simple sugars, water, vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes, and minerals. These different parts lead it to eventually crystallize, which is an issue in bulk. To help you visualize, imagine having a 55 gallon barrel full of honey you have to bottle and ship out. If that entire honey drum has crystallized due to cold weather, are you going to scoop it out with a spoon and hand-squish it into every bottle? That would be both sticky and inefficient. The same goes for other products that harden or thicken and aren’t liquid enough to be poured or pumped.


Melting Point of Honey, Honey

Honey becomes almost impossible to spread or work with when it crystallizes (you’re probably familiar with the ole’ “pop the honey in the microwave” trick). When honey is crystallized, it’s melting point ranges between 104 and 122 °F (40 and 50 °C). This range accounts for the fact that the chemical makeup of honey will vary due to differences in bees, impurities, climate, flower supply, and geographical location of the particular hive.

Raw vs. Processed

Honey must undergo extremely minimal straining to be considered “raw” by the FDA. This indicates how important it is to heat honey with great care. Processed honey on the other hand, is blasted by high heat (161 ºF and higher!), straining, and pasteurization, which process destroys helpful yeast cells, enzymes, and antioxidants in raw honey.

Overheating honey destroys the properties of honey that are most nutritional for our bodies. Around 200 components, including antibacterial properties, are lost if honey is heated over 98.6 ºF (37 ºC). Higher than 104 ºF (40 ºC) and valuable enzymes are destroyed. In short, the danger of just sticking honey in a manufacturing microwave is denaturing, devaluing, and scorching it. Heating solutions for crystallized honey include generic electric heating blankets. However, these run the risk of scorching the honey, or overheating it. Because of this, it is crucial to heat and decrystallize raw honey carefully.

If you heat honey above 104 ºF (40 ºC), it will caramelize. For those apiarists and manufacturers that want to preserve their raw honey and still be able to bottle it, they need a specialized solution. The BeeBlanket has been engineered to the temperature of a beehive, which preserves the valuable raw aspects of the honey, while warming it enough to liquify it.

Coconut Oil : Put the Heat in the Coconut

Coconut Oil is used for a huge variety of purposes, not just for food. Depending on the makeup of your specific coconut oil, it melts at a temperature between 76-78 ºF (24-25 ºC). The melting point depends on how pure the oil is. Impurities spark crystallization. The purer the oil, the lower the melting point. Overall, at average room temperature and below, coconut oil is solid. Since coconut oil applications range from hair products to treating eczema, it is important that manufacturers package their coconut oil properly and accurately in a liquid state. Luckily, heating coconut oil back into liquid doesn’t affect the oil’s quality at all. The biggest issue is heating it slowly and evenly, so it doesn’t scorch.

Molasses Assets

Memaw and I appreciate molasses for its sweet, smoky flavor. Molasses is usually made from boiled down sugar cane, and can also be made from sugar beet juice, dates, pomegranate, and sorghum. It will crystallize due to lowered temperatures or condensation. Molasses doesn’t freeze in any industrial grade freezer due to the sugar acting as an antifreeze to the water molecules. The water will evaporate out, leaving crystallized, grainy molasses. The key is to keep it at normal temperatures with light heat. Molasses is made primarily from sucrose, depending on the source: sugarcane, sugar beets, and sorghum are all sources from which molasses is made. The more sucrose, the more likely crystallization will occur. Slow, even heat will solve any crystallization problems. After fixing any problems with heat, molasses crystallization is less likely to happen again by adding citric acid or pure fructose.

Melting Point of Vegetable Oil

Believe it or not, oil congeals as it gets colder as well. The melting point of vegetable oil varies greatly depending on the type: sunflower oil and safflower oil (2 ºF, -17 ºC), canola oil (14 ºF, -10 ºC), olive oil and sesame oil (21 ºF, -6 ºC), peanut oil (37 ºF, 3 ºC) are just a few.

One company we work with ships vegetable oil overseas. They said, “in the winter, the oil congeals to a white residue because of the cold temperatures onboard the ship.” Like most problems with heating, they needed a solutions that would “heat the totes gently to get the oil back to its original consistency…” Keyword being gently. Uniform heat is important for warming oils just like other food products as to not scorch them or damage their chemical makeup.

Shortening: The Big Short

Shortening is solidified, hydrogenated vegetable oil. When it comes to shortening (think Crisco), customers we’ve worked with are more concerned with softening it than melting it. With a melting point of 117º F, it is almost always in its solid, fluffy form. However, semi-vehicles will ship the product in cold weather, where it will freeze and become rock hard. In order to get it ready to sell, it needs to be warmed with a slow, uniform heat to about room temperature (68-72 ºF).

Even though all of the products we’ve mentioned are different in composition and chemical makeup, they have something in common: food! To finally get to our table, it is important that manufacturers are able to transport them, and that means finding proper temperature solutions.  

Sources:

Lindberg, Barbara. “The Bee Journal.” Why Does Honey Crystallize? January 01, 1970. Accessed November 19, 2018. http://thebeejournal.blogspot.com/2011/12/heating-and-freezing-honey.html.

Wrapping and Heating Valves in Dangerous Locations

No workplace would be complete without its own hazards. Whether it’s slippery floors, loud noise or dealing with harmful chemicals, there’s always something that employees need to be careful of in order to stay safe. Companies are expected to establish worker safety in these environments, as well as maintain proper care of equipment and products.

Keep Valves Protected

Valves are a critical piece of equipment in any work environment. They are  literally the “off-and-on” switch to efficiency and productivity. Making sure valves are heated to prevent freezing stiff in cold weather is critical for proper use. When a valve is inoperable, progress can come to an immediate halt, creating potentially dangerous situations.

Preventing valve freezes isn’t difficult to do. In fact, there are plenty of products out there that can help. The trick is to find a solution that won’t be compromised by the hazards of your work environment. For example, it’s probably a bad idea to use a warming system that utilizes incandescent heating elements where the air is filled with ignitable vapors. It’s also unwise to use a rigid heat wrap on piping that change shape due to thermal expansion.

Warming Wraps

Powerblanket warming wraps allow for efficient methods of valve heating without compromising safety. Each wrap is self regulating, so there’s no need to constantly monitor if the wrap is working or not. Certified to UL/CSA safety 

standards, Powerblanket wraps are safe to use in virtually any hazardous environment and can be custom fitted to any valve size. They’re also incredibly easy to install, which means less time winterizing and more time doing what you do best.

Using Warming Wraps in C1D2 Environments

Working in an environment with ignitable vapors is one of the most dangerous places to operate equipment. In a C1D2 workplace, one small spark from a light or heating element can lead to catastrophe. Regardless of the danger, equipment still needs to be handled and used to get the job done, even in cold weather.

Warming wraps are critical to keeping equipment warm and operable, but how do you know which wrap product is safe to use in a C1D2 environment? ETL certified to UL and CSA safety standards, Powerblanket’s warming wraps meet the strict safety requirements demanded in areas where the air can ignite at any time. That’s why businesses that use warming wraps call on Powerblanket for help.

In addition, warming wraps allow for quick and easy installation, taking away little time from daily operations. The warming wraps are self regulating, so there’s no need to constantly check up on them to see if they are maintaining the correct temperature.

When you need a specialized warming wrap to keep your valves, containers and pipes from freezing, turn to Powerblanket for the solution. No matter what size or material, or what type of vapor is in the air, Powerblanket’s Warming Wraps will ensure that your safety and efficiency needs are met.

Bananas: Grocers Worst Nightmare

What is the worst fruit of all time?

In terms of its ability to waste, Food and Wine magazine rates bananas as the worst. A February 13, 2018 article said bananas are the biggest source of grocery store waste.

Bananas are not the only produce products to rot before it gets to consumers: food is wasted at every step of the supply chain. But bananas stand out because consumers tend to only purchase bananas that they perceive are ripe, which in most cases are a spotless yellow or yellow-green.

What consumers don’t understand is that bananas are ripe and edible while green all the way through until black. The darker the banana, the more sweet it is. The lighter the banana, the more starchy it tastes. Bananas can be eaten alone, used in baking, mixed in a smoothie, as a topping for oatmeals and ice cream, and even fried. How they are used is determined by the fruit’s starchy or sweet consistency.

However, a significant amount of banana waste comes from the transportation of the fruit. Ash Ngu, an expert of banana transportation, described on Quora how the process works.

“Bananas that Americans eat are imported from countries like Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Panama. They’re harvested green and unripened so that they can last the 3-4 weeks it takes to get them into grocery stores. During processing, they’re broken up into bunches, labeled with those little stickers and boxed up in order to protect them during shipping.

Source: Costa Rica Daily Photo 

“The bananas are transported across the ocean in temperature-controlled ship holds. Once they get to their destination port, a ripening manager inspects the bananas. They’re visually inspected, their temperature is taken, the peel is peeled, banana flesh color and texture is evaluated. Then they go into pressurized rooms which force air through the banana boxes for consistent ripening. The temperature of the room can be controlled to quicken or slow the ripening process. After they are ripened appropriately, the bananas are sent on their final journey in trucks to various grocery shelves across the nation and into your hands.”

Some producers use chemical gases to speed up the ripening process of bananas. This chemical is called ethylene. A small hydrogen gas, ethylene is a naturally occurring byproduct of ripening fruit, including bananas. Producers will often use ethylene to encourage the ripening of bananas to time their peak “fresh appearance” with the date at which consumers will see them on store shelves.

One conclusion that can be gleaned from learning about the process it takes to get bananas from tree to store is that doing so is very expensive. There are a few items out there that can help with bringing more fruit to the customer, but refrigeration and ethylene are the main methods used by producers and grocers today.

OCTOBER POWER MANUFACTURE AWARD WINNER: HARVEST RIGHT

 

This month’s Power Manufacture Award goes to an innovative company that has found a way simplify the freeze dried food industry, reaching the masses with  an affordable solution: Harvest Right.

Based in Salt Lake City, Harvest Right manufactures freeze dryers that can fit inside of one’s own home kitchen. Harvest Right spent four years in R&D trying to figure out how to downsize hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of freeze drying equipment. Out of that came an assortment of freeze dryers, including variants for pharmaceutical, scientific and home use.

Before Harvest Right, freeze drying technology was around $30,000 to $100,000 and only available to commercial companies, the US military, and NASA,” said a Harvest Right spokesperson. “It took years for Harvest Right to engineer and manufacture a freeze dryer that was affordable, small enough for a home, and automated enough to make it easy to use for the home consumer.”

Due to Harvest Right’s unique, home-based approach to freeze drying appliances, the market for its products has taken off internationally.

“We are most proud of being able to provide an affordable freeze dryer to those that want to freeze dry on their own,” the spokesperson added. “Harvest Right freeze dryers are now being used in Australia, India, Europe, South America and all over the United States. Instead of canning and dehydrating, the world has discovered that freeze drying is the better solution when it comes to food preservation.”

It’s that kind of innovation and focus on the needs of the consumer that led Powerblanket to first be attracted to Harvest Right, and ultimately beat out the competition to become the October 2018 Power Manufacture Award winner. Those qualities are found throughout the company from bottom to top.

“The founder of Harvest Right has a passion for both helping people and food preservation [which] led him to create a home freeze dryer that people could use at home,” the Harvest Right spokesperson said. “Our advice to future entrepreneurs would be to make sure that you are first passionate about whatever you are pursuing.”

With companies like Harvest Right leading the way in manufacturing quality, consumer-focused needs and innovative products, the future of Utah manufacturing is in good hands. For more information about Harvest Right, visit www.harvestright.com.

Honey Chemistry: What is Honey Made Of?

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The difference between raw honey and pure honey is lost on many. Runny honey? Rock hard? “Who cares! Just pop it in the microwave!” Well, hypothetical person, honey is actually more complex than that. Honey is made of delicate sugars, water, vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes, and minerals that can be damaged when overheated.  Let’s take a proverbial “Magic School Bus” dive into the honey pail. It’s time to educate yourself on the chemistry of this ancient ambrosia, how to keep it from pasteurization, and why.

The Sting: A Bee’s Process for Makin’ Honey

Honey Bee Pollinating White FlowerSo why do bees make honey in the first place? Turns out we’re not the only ones who like honey on our toast. Bees eat honey and save it to live on during the winter. Forager bees collect nectar from flowering plants and take it back to the hive in their honey stomach (also known as honey crop), and transfer it over to house bees. Then, over a 20-minute period they will process the nectar in their crop, absorbing the water and breaking down the larger sucrose sugar molecules into smaller glucose and fructose sugars.

No, honey isn’t “bee vomit,” or “bee-barf” as my coworker likes to call it. This is because regurgitation is voluntary, and never passes through the bees central digestive system. After regurgitation, the bees will then deposit the nectar-turned-honey into honeycomb, and will fan it with their wings. This helps to further dehydrate the honey, which gives it preservative qualities. The low water content in honey, below 20%, also makes it uninhabitable for bacteria. This low water content and acidic properties gives honey antiseptic qualities too, good for topical use and health treatments, like for a common sore throat. 

What is Honey Made Of? A Sticky Situation

Honey is made of different sugars, water, vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes, and minerals. Raw honey comes straight from the hive, after an apiarist lightly filters it by hand to remove any debris. This preserves the nutritional qualities of the honey. Processed honey is heated at 70 degrees Celsius and then rapidly cooled, killing and destroying beneficial bacteria, enzymes, pollen, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. This, and intense straining “purify” the honey and is done mostly for aesthetic reasons. All in all, processed honey is significantly less beneficial for your body just so it will look pretty on the shelf.

Crystal Clear: Decrystallize Raw Honey

When apiarists and beekeepers remove honey from the hive, they usually keep it in pails. Hive temperatures average between 89º to 95º Fahrenheit. If the weather is cold enough, depending on the type of honey, it will begin to crystallize. A honey bucket heater or honey drum heater is a great solution to decrystallize raw honey without heating it enough to pasteurize it and helping preserve its nutritional value. 

Check out this infographic for more information on what honey is made of!

Infographic on honey chemistry and different honey facts

Sources

Charlotte, Beekeeper, Pete Jones, and Beekeeper Charlotte. “What Do Honeybees Do With Pollen?” Carolina Honeybees. October 15, 2018. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://carolinahoneybees.com/why-pollen-is-vital-for-honeybee-survival/.

Common Disease Problems. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://www.uaex.edu/farm-ranch/special-programs/beekeeping/about-honey-bees.aspx.

“Honey, Recipes, Research, Information.” National Honey Board. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://www.honey.com/faq.

https://www.livescience.com/4255-oldest-bee-fossil-creates-buzz.html

http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/webprojects2001/loveridge/index-page3.html

https://www.compoundchem.com/2014/08/21/chemistryofhoney/

4 New Products in Roofing Industry

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Roofing can get rough. You run the risk of cuts, injuries, falls, and impact shocks. That doesn’t even include everything that can go wrong with your shingles, product, or roof. Whether you have residential or commercial needs, check out these new products in roofing that will make your project safer and easier.

1. Nailed It! Nailgun

A nail gun will make fast work out of a slow job. With the highest reviews and reliability, the Hitachi NV45AB2 is awesome for contractors and homeowners alike. It’s precise due to its carbide tipped nose; intuitive, easy to use, and weatherproofed so you can use it in difficult weather. It has a rubber grip to prevent fatigue, and is light and easy to carry with one hand.

2. Gloves

Gloves that protect your hands without slowing you down or cutting back your dexterity are a must. MaxiFlex Ultimate gloves, at a reasonable price, are high quality, super thin, flexible, and breathable. They are 100% silicone free, which is impressive for a durable roofer’s glove. These are made of a micro-foam nitrile and a seamless knit nylon.

Their breathability is a unique feature for roofing gloves, since they have airflow on the front and back of the hand. This will keep your hands from sweating.

3. Get a Grip: Automatic Safety Grip

Safety is obviously a top priority when roofing. Safety lines and harnesses are crucial to prevent falls. One recent product is making a difference for productivity in roofing safety. An Automatic Following Rope Grab made by DBI-SALA follows the roofer as they move along their safety line. This product is awesome for carrying supplies to other parts of the roof. It also comes in manual options where the worker would grip the device to move it along their lifeline.

4. Bulk Material Warmer

In cold weather, roofing shingles and adhesive can be negatively affected. Between 100º and 120º Fahrenheit, Hot Boxes, or Bulk Material Warmers can keep your roofing products from freezing with a uniform, evenly heated core technology, for optimal use all year. This helps prevent any voided warranty for roofing in cold weather. They also cost less to run than keeping materials in the cab of a warm truck. This is because the cost for electrical is much lower than the cost of burning fuel to run a vehicle. They even have remote temperature control options for specific contracting needs. Whatever the roofing emergency, Hot Boxes can help solve problems year-round.

Whether you’re a professional roofing company or DIY homeowners fixing your garden shed, these new roofing products can help you most comfortably and effectively in your roofing projects.

Sources:

https://bestroofingshoes.com/best-gloves-for-roofing/

https://toolsfirst.com/best-roofing-nailer/

https://pksafety.com/blog/the-best-fall-protection-for-roofers/

Roofing Repair: Put the Proof in Your Roof

Roofing repair is a common, annoying necessity. With the sun’s heat, shingles (and a roof in general) will expand. This leads to nails popping out, which can leave holes for leaks. If you’re new here, leaks = bad. Read on for some basic steps on replacing a roof.

Nailgun

Nailed It

When you are repairing roof tile, consider renting a nail gun. Nail gun rental can cost around $20 a day, which can save you the time of hammering. Worth it!

Pro contractors, Georgia Pacific, released this video for specs and detailed instructions on laying sheathing and spacing for nails. This can differ depending on the spacing of your rafters. Also take into account nail length you will need to pierce through the necessary layers. According to IKO, “Roofing nails should be long enough to penetrate the roofing material and go 19 mm into OSB, solid wood, plywood or non-veneer wood decking, or through thickness of decking, whichever is less. To determine the nail length, you should consider the number of layers of shingles, shingle thicknesses, underlayment and flashings (installed on eaves, sidewalls and valleys, etc.).” Long story short, you still need to look into specifications for your particular roof.

1. Repair Your Sheathing

Begin by clearing any debris or leaves from your roof. Depending on your issue, you might need to repair or lay down new sheathing. Lay down your sheathing (also known as decking), which is usually half inch thick plywood, 8 feet long. This is standard. Obviously every roof is different and you might have to cut your sheathing to fit your roof’s measurements. Once you have your sheathing measured and cut, nail it to your roof’s rafters. Lay your sheathing in a brick pattern; this will give your roof extra strength. See Figure Below.

2. Lay Down Felt Paper

Felt paper is what sits between your shingles and your plywood sheathing. Staple your 6 inch starter strip of felt paper at the bottom of the roof, near the gutter. Leave 1 inch to overhang over the roof. This helps weather elements to drain off the roof into the gutter. Just like you will do with your shingles later, overlap the felt paper with about two inches over the piece of felt paper below it. Make sure to reinforce the tar adhesive strip on each piece of felt paper with nails.

3. Install Shingles

You can’t reshingle your roof without shingles! Figure out if you are repairing roof tile (usually clay, ceramic, or wood), asphalt shingles (also known as composite or 3 tab), or architectural shingles (also known as laminate). Lay your shingles starting at the bottom corner of the sloped roof with your starter course. Work your way to the top, overlapping the top shingles over the row beneath them. This will make it so precipitation doesn’t penetrate the roof and lead to damage. Work out from the bottom corner in a pyramid shape. Six nails along the tar strip of each shingle should be adequate for utmost performance and hold. Work from the bottom up, building from your original pyramid shape.

If you are doing roof shingle repair for an isolated part of your roof, perhaps a part where the shingles were damaged, don’t remove the old ones, just nail the new on top of them. This leaves a consistent, smooth look.

If you’re trying to do roof repair in winter, read this article for some extra tips. If not, still read it!

Sources:

https://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/rooms-and-spaces/exterior/how-to-repair-a-damaged-roof

Ultimate DEF Reference Guide

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Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF)

DEF is a key factor in making sure our trucks run smooth, efficient and clean on America’s highways. This liquid is used in nearly all diesel-fueled vehicles in the United States, from pickup trucks to ambulances to 18-wheelers. With something so commonplace, you’d think that most people have heard of DEF. But that’s not the case. Do you know what DEF is? Join Powerblanket as we explore DEF in why it’s important, how it’s used, and what to look out for so you use it correctly.

What is it?

DEF is a mix of synthetic urea and deionized water. Urea is naturally found as a byproduct in urine, but urea in DEF is created in a laboratory. (On that note, it’s a good opportunity to mention that if you run out of DEF, under no circumstances should you urinate in your DEF tank. But more on that later.)

DEF is most often seen as a clear, odorless liquid. When it dries, it solidifies into white crystals.

DEF
A dried piece of DEF

Why is it Important?

DEF is a critical part of the exhaust system in diesel engines. The Environmental Protection Agency has been limiting nitrogen oxide emissions since 1994, with additional reductions in 1998, 2002, 2007, and 2010. According to the web-based science, research, and technology news service www.phys.org, “Nitrogen oxides (NOx) are poisonous gases derived from nitrogen and oxygen combustion under high pressure and temperatures…[it] can cause breathing problems, headaches, chronically reduced lung function, eye irritation, loss of appetite and corroded teeth. Indirectly, it can affect humans by damaging the ecosystems they rely on in water and on land—harming animals and plants. In Britain alone, known NO2 emissions have been estimated to kill 23,500 people every year, according to aerosol science professor Ian Colbeck of the University of Essex, southeastern England.” The World Health Organization classified NOx as being a cause of cancer in 2012.

NOx diesel exhaust fumes also emit particles that are too fine for human lungs to filter, which can harm one’s ability to breathe in ways such as asthma and other chronic breathing problems. Those same particles are also causes of lung cancer and, according to www.phys.org, “premature death in people with heart or lung disease.”

Before the 1990s, exhaust systems were not regulated. Beginning in 1994, diesel regulations limited the amount of NOx pollution released by diesel-fueled vehicles. Since then, DEF has become a staple in virtually all diesel trucks on American roads in their Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system, where exhaust is treated in the exhaust system instead of the engine itself. As the exhaust leaves the engine, a mist of DEF is sprayed into the exhaust. The two mixes into ammonia and NOx, which then goes through the SCR catalyst, which changes both into nitrogen and water vapor. This final result is harmless.

Applications of DEF

Nearly all diesel-fueled vehicles in the United States use DEF. This includes ambulances, fire trucks, and wildland firefighting engines. Powerblanket met with the Madison Fire Department in Rexburg, Idaho, to discuss the uses of DEF within its firefighting fleet.

In Rexburg, winters can drop outdoor temperatures well below -20°F. In order to make sure the temperature doesn’t affect DEF quality, all Madison Fire Department vehicles are equipped with internal heating devices to ensure DEF does not freeze. Several vehicles, such as the ambulances and pickup trucks, have internal DEF tanks equipped with heaters.

Standard fire engines and wild land fire engines, on the other hand, use external DEF tanks.

The nearest DEF pump station is located 30 miles away, so fire crews have to purchase DEF locally in 2.5 gallon containers to fill both internal and external DEF tanks.

The U.S. Military also has a large vehicle fleet that consumes diesel fuel. However, DEF is not commonly used in bases across the world. With the exception of vehicles used for local travel, heavy-duty vehicles such as tanks and work trucks are exempt of NOx reduction regulations. This is due in large part for lack of high quality, low sulfur diesel fuel in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan, whereas jet fuel, that has a high sulfur content that would quickly clog filters that use DEF, is plentiful. 

In the U.S. Military, being able to take a tank brigade and armored truck division out of Louisiana and send them into combat zones across the world is paramount. Using jet fuel, which negates the need for DEF, is essential to that mission.

 

DEF Pump Stations on the Rise

As federal government regulations increase the demand for quick access to DEF, gas stations are rising to meet that need, particularly those that cater to long-haul truckers. DEF refilling pumps can be most often seen next to diesel fuel pumps. Such pumps are clearly labeled with “DEF” on them, and most DEF tanks are fitted to not allow diesel fuel to be accidentally pumped in.

A Word of Warning

DEF is probably one of the least dangerous chemicals in your vehicle, though that doesn’t mean it should be treated lightly. There are a few things to keep in mind that will help you maximize the effectiveness of DEF:

  • Running out of DEF: When your vehicle is low on DEF, a warning light will come on to alert the driver that if the DEF tank is not filled soon, the vehicle’s performance will undergo a sudden change. When the DEF tank is completely empty, the vehicle will slow to a maximum speed of a mere five miles per hour. This is so the vehicle is preserved until the DEF is refilled. Once the DEF tank has been replenished, vehicle performance will resume as usual.
  • DEF expires: DEF has a very short shelf life. In fact, purchasing DEF that has been sitting on the shelf for more than a year and pouring it into your exhaust system will cause damage to the vehicle. If stored away from sunlight and between 10°F and 90°F, DEF’s shelf life can last up to a year.

    • How do you know if your DEF is expired? All DEF containers that are purchased at automotive supply shops have an expiration date on the package, not too dissimilar from food expiration dates. DEF pumps at gas stations do not have a labeled expiration date due to the constant cycling of DEF into the pump.
  • Never mix: Though DEF itself is also harmless–spills can be simply wiped up with a rag–it should never be poured into the fuel system. In addition, other liquids, such as additives, should never be added to the DEF tank.
    • Some people think that because DEF is made up partly of urea, it’s acceptable to urinate into their DEF tank when they’re low on DEF. This is not true. DEF uses a synthetic urea not derived from biological sources, and is made to have a highly purified solution of urea. Agricultural urea fertilizers should also never be poured into a DEF tank.
  • Keep it heated: DEF freezing in your truck will not damage the SCR system. Operating a vehicle with frozen DEF is fine, but less effective than if it was thawed. Many vehicles use internal heating equipment or the engine heat itself to keep DEF thawed enough to use. However, if DEF is stored in bulk in an external tank, a heating source will be required, such as a hot box. Keeping DEF at a regular temperature between 10°F and 90°F is critical to ensure quality DEF.

DEF is an important part of diesel-fueled vehicles. Though not part of the drive system, DEF is essential to making the world a better place by lowering vehicle exhaust and smog. It’s a key part of the trucking industry, and will continue to be as the EPA’s NOx regulations are in place.

September Power Manufacture Award Winner: Stealth Gear USA

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In what seemed like an underserved market, one business has been leading the way in quality gun accessory manufacturing. That’s why the September Power Manufacture Award goes well-deserved to Stealth Gear USA.

 

How it all Began:

Based in American Fork, Utah, Stealth Gear USA was created on the idea of a better gun carrying case. According to the company’s website, founder Paul Laemmlen, it all started with a mishap with his handgun while shopping at a local store.

“It all started the day my loaded handgun fell out of a poorly-designed IWB holster and onto the floor of a busy retail establishment,” he says on the company’s website. “That holster (manufactured by a major US holster company) was retired that day to the reject holster pile. After an exhaustive search for a better IWB holster, I was disappointed with the poorly-conceived and over-priced offerings on the market.”

It wasn’t long before Stealth Gear USA was born, bringing quality and practical gun holsters and accessories to the world.

 

The Product:

What truly sets Stealth Gear USA apart from its competitors is their carefully-crafted, award-winning, American made VentCore® holster. The product was one of Laemmlen’s original creations when he first designed the product out of his garage in 2012. With 30 individual components handmade to order, including parts that utilize rust-free metal and breathable fabric, the holster serves citizens, military and police forces in more than 50 countries.

Not your Average Gun Accessory Maker:

Stealth Gear USA isn’t content in participating in the latest trends in accessory manufacturing. According to a company spokesman, Stealth Gear USA seeks to be on the cutting edge of what’s next in the market.

“We don’t release a product unless its innovative or better than what’s currently available on the

Market,” the spokesman said. “Too many companies ‘pile on’ and just copy their competitors. With our Research and Development Department, Market Research Committee, and New Product Development Committee structure – which is composed of team members with significant engineering and product education experience and backgrounds – we believe we are capable of bringing a more robust and cross-disciplinary product development process to our products.”

 

Creating a Proud Legacy:

Getting into an industry market can be tough in today’s environment for small businesses. Stealth Gear USA knew this to be a fact, and strove to regulate its growth in ways that would allow its top-quality employees to be the drive of expansion and profit.

“Early on, it was very challenging trying to keep up with the overwhelming demand while building an underlying business that could support the demand and grow to meet market needs,” the spokesman said. “It didn’t take long for us to discover that our industry is subject to  hyper-competition, political realities, and knock-offs and imitations. Through all these challenges we focused on what we could control – the quality of our products and our customer service.

Looking to the future, Stealth Gear USA says it’s well prepared to face a world where the market is ever changing.

“We are extremely proud of the team we’ve built and the processes we have refined over the past five years. We’re in a position now to aggressively pursue new and exciting products not only within the concealed carry market, but beyond.”

Powerblanket is proud to award the Power Manufacture Award to Stealth Gear USA due to the company’s excellence in manufacturing a quality product that puts them above the competition. Fore more information on Stealth Gear USA and its products, visit www.stealthgearusa.com.

LET IT FLOW: HOW TO CALCULATE VISCOSITY OF A LIQUID

Viscosity is the measure of a material’s resistance to motion under an applied force. There are several formulas and equations for viscosity calculation.  If youwant a simple science experiment, measure the speed of a metal ball dropped in a container of liquid. The velocity of the ball, combined with the relative densities of the ball and the liquid, can be used to calculate the viscosity of liquids.

TRY THIS OUT

Calculating the Density of the Ball

  1. Measure the mass of your ball, using your balance. For instance, suppose the mass of the ball is 0.1 kilograms (kg).
  2. Find the radius of the ball by first measuring the diameter (distance of a straight line through the ball at the widest part). Divide the diameter by 2; this gives the radius of your ball.
  3. Calculate the volume of the ball by plugging the radius into the equation for the volume of a sphere. Suppose the ball bearing has a radius of 0.01 meter (m). The volume would be:  Volume = 4/3 x pi x (0.01 m) ^3 = 0.00000419 m^3
  4. Calculate the density of the ball by dividing its mass by its volume. The density of the ball in the example would be:  Density = 0.1 kg ÷ 0.00000419 m^3 = 23,866 kg/m^3

 

Calculating the Density of the Liquid

  1. Measure the mass of your graduated cylinder when it is empty. Then measure the mass of your graduated cylinder with 100 millilters (mL) of liquid in it. Suppose the empty cylinder had a mass of 0.2 kg, and with fluid its mass was 0.45 kg.
  2. Determine the mass of the fluid by subtracting the mass of the empty cylinder from the mass of the cylinder with the fluid. In the example:  Mass of liquid = 0.45 kg – 0.2 kg = 0.25 kg
  3. Determine the density of the fluid by dividing its mass by its volume. Example:  Density of fluid = 0.25 kg ÷ 100 mL = 0.0025 kg/mL = 0.0025 kg/cm^3 = 2,500 kg/m^3*
  4. 1 mL is equal to 1 cm^3 *1 million cubic centimeters equal 1 cubic meter

 

Measuring the Viscosity of Liquid

  1. Fill your tall graduated cylinder with the liquid to be tested so it is about 2 cm from the top of the cylinder. Use your marker to make a mark 2 cm below the surface of the liquid. Mark another line 2 cm from the bottom of the cylinder.
  2. Measure the distance between the two marks on the graduated cylinder. Suppose that the distance is 0.3 m.
  3. Let the ball go on the surface of the liquid and use your stopwatch to time how long it takes for the ball to fall from the first mark to the second mark. Suppose it took the ball 6 seconds to fall the distance.
  4. Calculate the velocity of the falling ball by dividing the distance it fell by the time it took. In the example:  Velocity = 0.3 m ÷ 6 s = 0.05 m/s

 

Calculate the viscosity of liquid from the data you have collected:

  1. Viscosity = (2 x (ball density – liquid density) x g x a^2) ÷ (9 x v), where g = acceleration due to gravity = 9.8 m/s^2 a = radius of ball bearing v = velocity of ball bearing through liquid.
  2. Plug your measurements into the equation to calculate the viscosity of the liquid. For the example, the calculation would look like this:  Viscosity = (2 x (23,866 – 2,500) x 9.8 x 0.01^2) ÷ (9 x 0.05) = 93.1 pascal seconds

 

Viscosity Calculation Formula:

viscosity = shear stress / shear rate

The result is typically expressed in centipoise (cP), which is the equivalent of 1 mPa s (millipascal second).

 

Powerblanket Solutions

Powerblanket makes it easy to lower viscosity of many industrial fluids. Powerblanket offers various ready-to-ship products, from bucket and drum heaters to ibc tote heaters. We can also produce custom solutions for most applications. If you need better flowing fluids, Powerblanket has you covered.

DOWNLOAD THE GUIDE

 

Predicting the Weather

The Fine Art of Inaccuracy:  Predicting the Weather

I wake up, rouse my children for school, then check the weather.  The weather app on my iphone helps me make a lot of decisions about my day and week ahead–especially what kind of outerwear my kiddos need before they walk out the door.  My husband checks out the local forecast online when he gets to work. Some people watch the news while other obsess over what the weather channel has going on. However you get your information, there are numerous methods for coming to similar weather conclusions.

You may criticize the weather man’s accuracy, but he has already recognized his limitations.  Weather forecasters accept the fact that they cannot be perfect. Even with all of the resources available to them, they respect the fact that they are but mere mortals attempting to predict something as dynamic as the earth’s ever-changing weather.  Meteorologist rely on data from satellites, ships, airplanes, weather stations, buoys, and devices dropped from weather balloons, along with their experience, local trends, and history. And according to Nate Silver who wrote “The Weatherman is not a Moron” in the NY Times Magazine, “The one area in which our predictions are making extraordinary progress, however, is perhaps the most unlikely field, [weather forecasting].”

How do meteorologists forecast the weather?

Meteorologists and climatologists use several methods for predicting the weather:

  1. Climatology
  2. Analog
  3. Numerical Weather Prediction

 

Climatology

Climatology is a simple forecasting method that takes data/statistics collected over an extended period and then averages the results.  Meteorologists predict the weather for a specific day and location based on the weather conditions for that same day for several years in the past.

A forecaster could examine the averages for Halloween in Utah, for example, to predict the weather for the upcoming Halloween. The climatology method works when weather patterns remain in place, but in situations where outside factors change the weather frequently, the climatology method is not the best choice for predicting the weather, as it will more than likely not be accurate.

Analog

An analog is a thing seen as comparable to another thing.  The Analog Method is a slightly more complicated method because it involves examining today’s forecast scenario and remembering a day in the past when the weather looked very similar (an analog). The forecaster would predict that the weather in this forecast will behave the same as it did in the past.

For example, suppose today is very warm, but a cold front is approaching your area. You remember similar weather conditions happening last week, also a warm day with cold front approaching. You also remember how a heavy thunderstorm developed in the afternoon as the cold front pushed through the area. Therefore, using the analog method, a forecaster would predict that this cold front will also produce thunderstorms in the afternoon.

The analog method is difficult to use because it is nearly impossible to find a perfect analog. Various weather features rarely align themselves in the same locations they were in the previous time. Even small differences between the current time and the analog can lead to very different results. The argument in favor of analog is that as time passes and more weather data is archived, the chances of finding a “good match” for the current weather situation should improve, and so should analog forecasts.

 

Numerical Weather Prediction

Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) relies on supercomputers to predict the weather. Massive supercomputers, complete with software forecasting models, help meteorologists make weather predictions based on multiple conditions in the atmosphere such as temperatures, wind speed, high and low pressure systems, rainfall, snowfall and other conditions.

Meteorologists review the data to determine the weather forecast for the day. The forecast is only as good as the algorithms used by the computer’s software to predict the weather and the data is overwhelmingly limitless. With advanced calculations and the ability to analyze numerous factors at once, NWP provides the best means of forecast the upcoming meteorological conditions when compared with the other methods.

 

Alternative Weather Predicting Methods

Did your mom ever say, “Red sky at night, sailors delight.  Red sky at morn, sailors take warn”? Mine did. Outside of the standard and more advanced methods used by professionals, there are numerous, less-conventional ways to predict the weather.

Here are a few signs to watch for when predicting a hard winter:

  1. Woodpeckers sharing a tree.
  2. Early arrival of the Snowy owl.
  3. Early departure of geese and ducks.
  4. Early migration of the Monarch Butterfly.
  5. Thick hair on the nape (back) of the cow’s neck.
  6. Raccoons with thick tails and bright bands.
  7. Mice eating ravenously into the home.
  8. Early arrival of crickets on the hearth.
  9. Spiders spinning larger than usual webs and entering the house in great numbers.
  10. Pigs gathering sticks.
  11. Insects marching a bee line rather than meandering.
  12. Early seclusion of bees within the hive.
  13. Muskrats burrowing holes high on the river bank.
  14. “See how high the hornet’s nest, ‘twill tell how high the snow will rest”.

The Persimmon Method

One particularly interesting method of winter-weather prediction comes via the persimmon seeds. According to folklore, if you crack op

en a persimmon seed from a ripe fruit and the shape inside (called a cotyledon) looks like a fork, winter will be mild; if you see a spoon, there will be a lot of snow, and if there is a knife, winter will be so cold it will “cut like a knife.”

Melissa Bunker of North Carolina, “The Persimmon Lady,” sends Farmer’s Almanac her winter predictions based on seeds she opens from the persimmon fruit grown on her tree in central North Carolina.  This year (her tenth year making predictions as a partner with Farmer’s Almanac), Melissa checked 100+ seeds and only two came out as forks– the rest were spoons, no knives at all.  In all of her years, she has never seen a prediction like this. She said, “This will be a winter for the record books in central North Carolina!” According to Melissa, “If you look back on the past years readings you can see the seeds follow 95% accuracy with the almanac.”

 

A Goose Wishbone as a Weather Predictor

Back before the turn of the last century and before the National Weather Service was in place, many looked to the breastbone of a goose for winter predictions.  Around Thanksgiving, a goose would be killed and cooked. The cook  would roast it, carve it, and serve it, always being careful not to cut the breastbone from the carcass.

After the goose had been eaten, they would carefully remove the breastbone and cut away all the meat and fat left clinging to it. Then they would take the bone and put it on a shelf to dry, keeping an eye out for the coloration that would follow. If the bone turned blue, black, or purple, a cold winter lay ahead.

  • White indicated a mild winter.
  • Purple tips were a sure sign of a cold spring.
  • A blue color branching out toward the edge of the bone, meant open weather until New Year’s Day.
  • If the bone was a dark color, or blue all over, the prediction was for a real bad winter.

An overall dark color meant that the goose had absorbed a lot of oil, which acted as a natural protection against the cold. The darker the blue coloring, the tougher the winter would be.

 

The Legend of the Wooly Bear Caterpillar

The Woolly Bear caterpillar has 13 distinct segments of either rusty brown or black. The wider the rusty brown sections (or the more brown segments there are), the milder the coming winter will be. The more black there is, the more severe the winter.

In the fall of 1948, Dr. C. H. Curran, curator of insects at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, took his wife 40 miles north of the city to Bear Mountain State Park to look at woolly bear caterpillars. He collected as many caterpillars as he could in a day, averaged the reddish-brown segments, and then forecasted the coming winter weather through a reporter friend at The New York Herald Tribune.

Dr. Curran’s experiment continued for eight more years and attempted to prove scientifically the weather rule of the Wooly Bear Caterpillar. The resulting publicity made the woolly worm the most recognizable caterpillar in North America.

While most scientist do not take the wooly bear research seriously, there is a Wooly Worm Festival in Banner Elk, NC every October that celebrates this mini forecaster.  After a caterpillar race, the retired mayor inspects the winner and then predicts what the coming winter will be like.

 

Be Safe this Winter

Whatever way you slice it, dry it, or count it, Winter 2018 it tiptoeing in.  All predictions are pointing to winter coming sooner, with more intensity, and with increased snow.  Powerblanket encourages you to take the necessary steps to prepare for the cold ahead.

Winter Weather Predicting

Propane for Dummies: Frequently Asked Questions

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If you’re like me, you didn’t care about the chemistry behind propane, you just wanted to grill some burgers. That was until your tank started freezing up and sucking your wallet dry. We’re here to help unveil your mysterious propane tank and put money back in your pocket.

What is Propane?

Propane, a clean-burning fuel, is an economical source of energy. Also called liquefied petroleum gas (LP or LPG), propane is a part of the hydrocarbon gas family, along with others like butane and methane (“wasn’t me!”). This means propane occurs as a natural gas and can be bottled, making it convenient to transfer with the right safety precautions. Many homes, cabins, RVs, and even tiny houses use propane as their primary source of energy.

Are Propane Heaters Safe?

The answer is yes! When used correctly, propane is one of the safest sources of energy out there. Understanding the nature of propane, the necessary safety precautions, and the different functions of the valves on your tank will help you feel more comfortable using it (See figure below).

Like your ex, propane is so cold, it acts hot. Since propane functions at temperatures much lower than most natural environments, it can cause freeze burns on your skin if it makes sustained contact. For this reason you should always wear protective gloves if you are dealing with your tank or valves, and wear protective eyewear if possible. Propane is flammable, so never have an open flame around your tank. If you are interested in heating your tank, there are certified propane tank heaters that can help.

One thing to be aware of is that manufacturers add a rotten egg or skunk smell to propane–which is naturally odorless–in order to alert users if there is a leak. Since it is possible to have a leak so small you can’t smell it, you should definitely install carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Many fire alarms have CO detectors already built into them.

If you do start to smell something ripe and it’s not your dog or spouse, extinguish all flames, turn off the supply valve on your tank (if it’s safe), and leave the premises as soon as possible. Contact your supplier or a professional for assistance. If they are unavailable, call the police. Don’t try to handle propane on your own if you haven’t been trained professionally. Grab lunch and check out the new Marvel movie while things get cleared up!

Can Propane Freeze in Cold Weather? Propane Liquid Temperature

Just like how water boils into steam, liquid propane also boils into a gas. However, compared to water, the point where propane boils is much lower: it boils at -44 degrees Fahrenheit! When temperatures are below -44°F, propane gas condenses back into a liquid. Additionally, temperature change is tied to pressure change inside a propane tank: as temperatures increase, pressure inside propane tanks also increases. Thus the liquid propane expands as a gas. Decreased pressure also causes propane to condense back into a liquid. The colder the weather and lower the temperatures, the more dense and liquified propane becomes. This liquid state is inefficient: propane needs to be vaporized to pass through your supply lines!

 

Why is My Propane Tank Frosting Over? Can Propane Freeze in Cold Weather?

Many people are confused by the freezing point of propane because tanks will stop functioning in cold temperatures or start frosting over. Propane’s melting point is -306.4°F (-188 °C): below this point and propane will freeze into a solid. That is pretty bleeping cold. This means that, unless you’re in a research laboratory, liquid propane won’t freeze in any natural environment. It is, however, important to be aware that as propane vaporizes into a usable gas form, the temperature of the liquid left in the tank drops. If the heat of the weather outside is high, this will keep the pressure in your tank high and you’ll be good to go. But if temperatures outside are too low to keep pace with the cooling that is occurring inside the tank, frost will begin to form on the outside of the tank. This isn’t because the propane itself is freezing, but because its temperature is dropping below the temperature at which the water vapor outside freezes. This frost acts as insulation and resists any further heat from helping the situation. Frost can also form if there is a leak around your valves or lines, or if it is a particularly humid day.

How to Keep a Propane Tank from Freezing Up

Propane has a boiling point of -44°F, which means that in most normal climates propane is in a gaseous form. Like we mentioned before, this is important for the gas to be able to pass through the supply lines. As temperatures get colder and approach -44°F, propane gets denser and is less likely to perform at its maximum capacity. This, and the aforementioned frost that can develop on tanks, require some sort of insulation or heating. Without this, the life of the propane tank will shorten significantly, leading to pricy refills, exchanges, or even emergency visits from your propane distributor (accompanied by steep fees).

Gas Cylinder Blankets

No matter your tank size, Powerblanket® industrial-grade electric blankets provide you with a uniform barrier of heat across your entire tank. This heating solution lowers costs by optimizing temperatures and increasing your tank’s efficiency.

Powerblanket’s new residential product, Powerblanket lite, was released last year. With a few studies already in progress, we will have really powerful data in the near future on how these blankets help homeowners save big in the long run. Tune into this article toward the end of this season for an update on what we find. Powerblanket lite is an excellent and affordable option for homeowners who use propane. Stay tuned on how you can save money and increase the life of your propane!

For more information on your propane tank, download the free E-Book for homeowners and businesses!

Resin Curing Temperature

Resin curing + heat. This is something that isn’t discussed too much because, let’s be honest, it’s not a great selling point. The quicker and easier you can get your epoxy to cure the better, right? Resin curing temperature and curing time will vary depending on the mixture and manufacturer. While some systems are designed to ‘cure’ at room temperature, heat must be added for epoxies to reach optimal performance properties. Heat can be added via composite curing ovens, radiant heat, or epoxy curing blankets.

Types of Epoxy Resin Systems

There are probably several ways to categorize resin systems, but we’ll be focusing on two:

  1. One-part systems vs. two part systems
  2. Systems that cure at room temperature vs. those that require heat.

One-part systems vs. two part systems

While some systems are one part, most resin mixtures require two components. In one-part systems, heat is required to “kick-start” and maintain the curing process. More specifically, temperatures must be maintained around 250°F-350°F for a few hours (specific requirements vary).

Two part systems require the following elements: resin and a curing agent. Mixing the two initiates the chemical reactions necessary for curing.

Resin Curing Temperature: Room Temperature vs. Added Heat

As we’ve briefly touched on, heat requirements for epoxy curing vary from system to system. Quite often, all that’s required of two-part systems is mixing the resin and curing agent; the epoxy or composite is them able to finish curing at room temperature. However, some systems require additional heat. Again, the specific requirements of each system vary and can be obtained from the manufacturer.

Why Add Heat?

Knowing that room-temperature curing is an option, you might ask yourself “why would I want to go to the effort of adding heat during curing?” The key phrase here is “trade-off”. Adding heat usually means additional equipment and planning. However, epoxy mixtures that require heat boast the following properties:

  • Chemical resistance
  • Electrical insulation
  • Heat resistance

Hotter is Better!

It’s important to note that all epoxy mixtures (even those that ‘cure’ at room temperature) will technically not fully cure unless heat is added. Properly adding heat to systems designed to cure at room temperature will always boost the performance of the final product. However, curing at room temperature makes more sense when increased performance isn’t needed.

Let’s take a quick look at what this looks like in practice. Specifically, let’s look at how adding heat can increase the temperature resistance of a room-temperature cured system. Temperature resistance is measured by Glass Transition Temperature (Tg). Let’s say we have a room-temperature cured composite with a Tg of 100°C (212°F). When the composite is kept at 150°C (302°F), the Tg will increase by approximately 10-15°C (5-8°F). Keeping the product at the temperature for an additional 4 hours will increase the Tg by roughly an additional 5-8°C (1-4°F)

Post-Curing

Many manufacturers use heat in a “post-cure” to achieve desired properties. This typically follows two simple steps:

    1. The epoxy is first left to cure at room temperature overnight. This allows the mixture to “gel” before heat is added. When heat is added to early, it can affect the viscosity. Drops in viscosity can cause the mixture to “run” and can lead to uneven texture in the final product.
    2. Heat is applied for a few hours. A good rule of thumb is to keep temperatures 50-100°C above the Tg of the epoxy. This “post-cure” boosts the epoxy’s performance without disrupting the texture or consistency.

 

 

Heat: What Are Your Options?

There are a few effective options for adding heat during the epoxy curing process. Knowing the pros and cons of each can help you determine which is best for your needs. 1

1. Curing Ovens

Composite curing ovens are a highly effective option that allow for precise and even temperature control. Additionally, ovens come in a variety of sizes; whatever needs to be cured, there’s an oven that can fit it. However, this option can be expensive to install and cannot be scaled up or down. Additionally, lack of mobility means projects must be transported to ovens for curing. 

2. Radiant Heaters

Radiant heaters are a more versatile and mobile option. They are notably less expensive than composite curing ovens and can be scaled up or down depending on the size of the project. Unfortunately, radiant heaters can cause uneven curing which leads to discoloration, bubbles, and brittle patches.

3. Heating Blankets

Heating blankets provide all the mobility and scalability of radiant heaters with significantly more precise and even temperature control. Unlike ovens, composite curing blankets allow the heat to be brought to the project (vs. transporting the project to a curing oven). This can save significant time and headache. For example, when repairs are done on wind turbine blades, rather than disassembling the turbine and transporting the blade to a curing oven, repairs can be done on the spot.

 

Powerblanket Epoxy Curing Blankets

Powerblanket Epoxy Curing Blankets utilize top-of-the-line heating technology to ensure even heat distribution throughout the curing process. Additionally, Powerblanket offers custom options; whatever your curing needs, we can help you develop a solution.

Pipeline Packaging: A Powerblanket® Partner

You’ll find heavy-hitting distributors like Pipeline Packaging are at the top of Powerblanket’s asset list. When it comes to getting our products to the people who really need them, companies like these are worth recognizing.

Pipeline Packaging: A Powerblanket Product Provider

A frontrunner in commercial and industrial packaging, Pipeline Packaging pushes everything from eye droppers to giant totes. Servicing an enormous range of industries, including HAZMAT, spill containment, health, beauty, food & beverage, paint, automotive, janitorial, pet and veterinarian, Pipeline has newly expanded their product line to Powerblanket heating and cooling solutions.

“We’re thrilled to expand our offering to include Powerblanket products,” says Tim Winings, VP of Marketing and Sales at Pipeline. “Our footprint inside the industrial and food markets makes this arrangement exciting for both companies.” Powerblanket affirms the sentiment.

 

Founded in 1988, Pipeline has spread to 8 states and 10 offices, and over $100M in sales. With their people-centric vision they always consider “Customer First.” Servicing countless businesses in the United States, Powerblanket is excited to work in tandem with Pipeline Packaging. With its reputable history, reach, service, and variety, Pipeline Packaging is an invaluable partner for Powerblanket heating solutions to both of our customer bases throughout the country.

Powerblanket Heating Solutions at Pipeline Packaging Include:

  • Bucket Heaters
  • Tote Heaters
  • Barrel/Drum Heaters
  • Bulk Material Warmers
  • Cooling Solutions

Wind Damaged Shingles: What’s Really Wrong With My Asphalt Roof?

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Asphalt shingles are the most used roof covering in the U.S. because of their affordability and versatility. However, there are many issues with asphalt roofing shingles that are misattributed to wind damage (Marshall, 2010). What some would call “wind damaged shingles,” are actually results of poor installation, natural aging and weathering, roofing in cold weather, contaminated glue, and expansion and contraction due to changes in climate. Read on to find what qualifies as wind damage and what doesn’t.

Wind Damage to Shingles

If you think you have a wind damaged roof, it could be helpful to know what actual wind damage to shingles look like and how it happens. For a shingle to be wind damaged, an uplift force from the wind has to occur. This causes a pressure dissimilar between the front and back faces of the shingle. The more the shingle lifts off the roof, the more surface area is exposed between the shingle and the roof, leading to a greater uplift force and faster degradation.

Wind Damaged Shingles

As wind blows, it will cause inward and outward pressures on the walls and roof of a building. Any force, including wind, will seek the path of least resistance. This means that when wind hits the side of a house it will move up and over the roof to continue flowing. As it passes the ledge it will create a suction force on the face of the roof, similar to what occurs with an aircraft wing. This is understandable since an aircraft is able to fly due to this uplift force; granted, with a smooth metal wing. On a roof, textured shingles begin to lift because of this turbulence and can cause issues over time. If any problems of faulty manufacturing, climate, or installation occur, this is especially true.

Wind Pressure on Asphalt Roof

A Note to Contractors

The highest uplift pressures on a roof are in areas of change, such as along corners, eaves, ridges, and rakes (Marshall, 2010). This means that it is particularly important to add additional anchoring in the areas of the most uplift.

Wind Damage Map of Roof

Climate Effects on Shingles

We can’t blame all roofing repair on the wind: some problems stem from environmental temperatures. When shingles start lifting in a uniform, diagonal stairway pattern, they are known as “racked.” When they lift in a straight-up line like a zipper, it is known as “zippering” (go figure!). These are usually a result of climatic expanding and contracting. This is self-evident, since wind blows in all directions, and wouldn’t lift shingles in a uniform fashion. In this case, the line where they lift typically follows the way the contractor installed them. If new roof installation happens in extreme conditions of cold or heat it won’t last as long either.

Other uniform roof anomalies include cupping and clawing, where shingles curl up around all edges of the tab (cupping), or suction downward on all edges (clawing). These most likely have to do with the uneven absorption of water and not with the wind.

Natural Wear On Shingles: How Long Does a Roof Last?

One study by the University of Florida revealed that lifted shingles were more likely due to “a systematic failure of the shingle’s sealant strip” than some other external factor (Dixon, 2013). This is because the sealant strip naturally loses adhesion over time. This natural occurrence leaves the shingle partially unsealed and susceptible to the uplift force of wind and rain. Dixon et al. (2014) observed that asphalt shingles typically stay sealed for 4 to 5 years, and then begin to naturally deteriorate. The average manufacturer’s estimate for an asphalt shingle roof lifespan is about 20 years. This number obviously fluctuates depending on location and weather conditions.

Wind Damaged Shingles

Faulty installation & Human Error

The study by Dixon et al. (2014) also found that unsealed shingles can occur from poor installation. 70% of roofs studied showed errors including debris in the sealant strip, under-driven nails, and release tape that was accidentally stuck to the sealant strip from packaging mistakes. These roofs all had a distinct pattern in their damage, meaning they didn’t result from wind (Dixon, 2013). Sealant for roofing needs to be handled properly to ensure an optimal seal when installing shingles. Contamination to a shingle’s sealant strip can also happen in industrial areas where exhaust or chemical residues are abundant. This can affect a roof even more than weather conditions (2014).

If you’re trying to verify your roofing warranty, it is important to know whether the weather, contractors, or manufacturing are the culprit behind your roofing damage. Don’t let lack of knowledge keep you from having a reliable, economical, and overall good roof!

Resources

Craig R. Dixon. “The Influence of Unsealing on the Wind Resistance of Asphalt Shingles.” Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics. Vol. 130. Elsevier. 2014. pp. 30-40.

“Procedure for an Evaluation of Wind Damage to Shingles.” Prugar Consulting, Inc. Accessed October 11, 2018. http://prugarinc.com/shingles/procedure-for-an-evaluation-of-wind-damage-to-shingles/.

RCI. “Misconceptions of Wind Damage to Asphalt Composition Shingles.” RCI, Inc. June 07, 2018. Accessed October 09, 2018. http://rci-online.org/misconceptions-wind-damage-asphalt-composition-shingles/.

T.P. Marshall, S. Morrison, R. Herzog, and J. Green. “Wind Effects on Asphalt Shingles.” 29th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology. American Meteorological Society. 2010. Hyannis, MA. p. 11.

“What Roof Lasts the Longest?” What Roof Lasts the Longest? – Roofing Southwest. Accessed October 12, 2018. http://www.roofingsouthwest.com/blog/what-roof-lasts-the-longest.

August 2018 Power Manufacturer: Grip6

Out of Draper, Utah, Grip6 is making a name for themselves through revolutionary, minimalist, recyclable belts. After speaking with Founder BJ Minson, it’s clear to see why. Their ingenuity in the manufacturing process and inventive design makes them Powerblanket’s winner for August’s Power Manufacturers Award.

Origin Story

Grip6 began as BJ Minson’s desire to get design experience after completing his engineering degree. He started making products for himself, including a belt that shed typical notch and buckle conventions. After giving them as gifts to friends and family, word spread quickly. As a result, he created a kickstarter project and soon had over 10,000 orders.

Initially, Grip6 wanted to outsource domestically to US manufacturers, but high prices led Minson to continue producing the belts in-shop. This was even more possible due to his engineering background, which led him to design his own production machines. Swarmed with positive feedback, people began asking, “Where’s your website? I want more.” Minson decided to take things to the next level.

The Belt

Grip6 belt on male modelWithout bulky buckles, pins, prongs, or screws, Grip6 belts redefine minimalism. They use a reinforced, anodized, aluminum buckle and a Nylon 6,6 strap. According to Grip6, “Nylon 6,6 is more rigid [than traditional Nylon 6], has better tensile strength, has superior abrasion resistance, and can withstand higher temperatures before melting.” With an almost indestructible product, Grip6 gives a lifetime guarantee (or “guaran-damn-tee”). Clearly, long-lasting quality is top priority for Grip6, along with style and function.

Unique Manufacturing

Economically-minded and future oriented, Grip6 feels strongly about local manufacturing. After four years of working with various manufacturers in the US, they were left wanting: from slower delivery, to lower product quality, they determined they could do better. With custom-created manufacturing equipment, they efficiently quadrupled their production using the same number of employees. They created better quality products at a lower cost than anyone else, producing close to what a Chinese company would turn out if they were to outsource. In addition, Chinese import tariffs don’t affect Grip6, giving them an edge on the competition.

Powerblanket appreciates Grip6’s process and philosophy as they challenge the status quo. They have taken success into their own hands. Though BJ Minson wouldn’t say so; his humility surrounding the company’s success is heartfelt.

How Many Gallons of Propane in a 100 Pound Propane Tank?

It probably goes without saying, but a 100 lb propane tank is designed to hold 100 pounds of propane. Because propane is stored and delivered as a liquid, it can be helpful to know what this looks like in terms of gallons.  While there’s a fairly simple answer, there are a few different factors that can affect how many gallons are in a 100 pound propane tank.

The Simple Answer

To put it simply, there are 0.236 gallons per pound of propane (at 60°F).

So, 0.236 gallons x 100 pounds = 23.6 gallons

A 100 lb tanks contains 23.6 gallons

Other Factors

Additional factors don’t add a significant difference to the total volume of 100 pounds of propane, but are interesting to consider.

Water Capacity

Each gas cylinder will have a water capacity number stamped on the collar (it will be something like WC 240). This is the total mass of liquid, stated in pounds, that a cylinder could hold if filled entirely with water.

However, when filled with propane, gas cylinders can only be filled up to 42% of the water capacity (this is to accommodate for the fluctuations in tank pressure as temperatures change)

For this example, 240 (water capacity) x 0.42 (max. capacity)= 100.8 pounds

So our tank can actually hold a maximum of 100.8 lb.

As stated above, we know that each pound of propane is 0.236 gallons.

0.236 gallons x 100.8 pounds = 23.789 gallons

Again, this doesn’t make a huge difference, but is still a factor to consider.

How Temperature Affects Tank Pressure

The examples above assume an ambient temperature of 60°F. At this temp, a “full” tank would produce a reading of about 40% on a tank gauge. When temperatures drop, however, that reading will go down. This is not because there is less usable propane in the tank, the propane has just become more dense or compact and the volume has decreased. The reverse happens as temperatures rise; the tank gauge reading will go up, but it’s still the same weight of propane in the tank– the molecules have just become more spread out.

What Happens When Tanks Get Cold?

While there is still the same usable amount of propane in a cold tank, the lower pressure can cause tanks to stop working properly. Keeping tank pressure up may require more frequent refills; even when there is still “usable” propane in the tank, the volume is not high enough and additional propane must be added to bring tank pressure back up.

Heated propane tank wraps can keep you from having to make time consuming and expensive refills by raising your tank temperature and, consequently, your tank pressure. If you frequently use propane during cold weather months, they’re definitely worth checking out! (Give us a call at 888.316.6324 if you have any questions!)

How Does a Ground Heater Work?

If you participate in projects that require digging or pouring concrete during cold weather, you’ve probably used or considered using  ground heaters. Ground heaters can extend working seasons into the winter and make tasks otherwise complicated by low temps a bit easier. They can be used to thaw frozen ground, cure concrete, and even to warm up surrounding air temperatures. How ground heaters work depends on which type of ground heater you’re using; the most common are hydronic heaters and heated blankets. Hydronic heaters work by heating a propylene glycol mixture and pumping it through long loops of hose that are placed over the area to be heated. Heated blankets work via heating elements that run through the blanket and distribute heat over the surface of the blanket.

Why Use Ground Heaters?

As mentioned earlier, there are a few good reasons to look into using a ground heater.

1. Thaw Frozen Ground

Even with power tools, digging through frozen ground is unnecessarily time consuming and labor intensive (and without power tools, it’s pretty much impossible). Not to mention, most specifications prevent teams from placing concrete on frozen ground. Without ground heaters, that could mean pushing pause on all concrete projects for months at a time! Using a heater will make digging a (relative) breeze and keep operations running all winter long.

2. Cure Concrete

Concrete curing involves a chemical reaction that requires fairly specific temperatures. When temperatures aren’t high enough (above 40-50°F), the necessary chemical reactions will slow down and the concrete can essentially stop curing.

According to the American Concrete Institute (ACI), when concrete is poured at or below 42°F, there must be heat protection for an adequate cure.

Ground heaters can keep concrete at ideal temperatures during the entire curing process and help achieve max cure strength.

How do Ground Heaters Work?

Hydronic Heaters

Prepping ground for cement

Hydronic heaters are portable and can be rented out for projects or bought (a better option if you’ll be using a heater frequently). They use a propylene glycol mixture to heat large areas of ground. Here’s how they work:

  1. A boiler heats the propylene glycol mixture (this mixture effectively conducts heat).
  2. The heated mixture is pumped through a length of hose that is laid in loops over the area to be heated.
  3. A vapor barrier is used to cover the hoses and to keep moisture from escaping.
  4. Typically, Insulated blankets are also laid over the vapor barrier.

Heated Blankets

heated blanket on ground

Heated blankets offer all the portability and convenience of hydronic heaters and then some — they take less time to install and remove and, because they take up less space, are easier to transport.

Instead of long loops of hose and a propylene glycol mix, heated blankets use electric heating elements that run through the blanket and heat the ground surface.

  1. The blanket is spread out over the area to be heated and plugged in.
  2. Electricity powers the heating elements that run through the blanket.
  3. Heated blankets typically include an insulating top layer that traps heat and keeps the blanket working even more efficiently.

Powerblanket provides ground heating blankets including ground thawing blankets and concrete curing blankets. If you’re interested in these heating options, please give us a call at 888.316.6324.  We’d be happy to answer any questions!