Temperature maintenance solutions – why EHT makes sense

01 February 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201913251

Chemical & Allied Industries
Heating, Cooling & Ventilation
Petrochemicals

HEAT sensitive industries today require highly effective temperature maintenance solutions to keep operations running optimally. In the bitumen industry for example, viscosity must be managed and maintained consistently, and temperature maintenance plays a critical role in this process.

It is therefore not surprising that various heat transfer solutions are used to maintain temperature. One of the methods used is thermal oil which is available in a wide range of specifications to suit various processes.

That’s according to Frik van Dyk, Engineering Manager from Eltherm SA, a provider of such heat tracing solutions, who added that the term thermal oil refers to heat transfer fluids that move heat from one heated source to another process.

Thermal oils are available in different forms like synthetic oil, petroleum- based oils such as paraffins and synthetic glycol-based fluids.

Van Dyk said that one the country’s leading suppliers of bituminous products uses a combination of thermal oil, electrical heat tracing (EHT) and flu gas to maintain plant temperature and subsequent operations and material viscosity.

However, the organisation has increasingly found that the thermal oil leads to high capital outlay and overall operational expenditure: oil condensates and evaporates; and prolongs plant maintenance and shut down time as it takes longer to reach specified temperatures.

As a result, this organisation now runs a hybrid heating solution which is made up of five percent thermal oil and the majority EHT. “Electrical heat tracing offers virtually no additional maintenance once installed and it significantly cuts down on shutdown and maintenance time as it reaches optimal temperature quicker,” he said.

“Reaction time is limited when a plant experiences downtime or a shutdown. According to the organisation, an effective heating solution like EHT is more feasible than thermal oil which takes much longer to become fully operational again.

“EHT also offers significant energy cost savings as it requires a lot less power to maintain temperature than thermal oil solutions. Also, due to advancements in EHT application, systems can be used virtually anywhere on a plant.”

He said additional thermal oil drawbacks included sudden electricity trips or unplanned shutdowns which may cause the oil to overheat, which in turn may cause degradation and sludge. This will necessitate cleaning and replenishing the oil.

Leaks especially in the combustion area can cause fire hazards and valves, gaskets and packings should be suitable for thermal oil use.

“EHT is undoubtedly the future and we hope to move over all our operations to heat tracing in the foreseeable future.”

, a provider of such heat tracing solutions, who added that the term thermal oil refers to heat transfer fluids that move heat from one heated source to another process.

Thermal oils are available in different forms like synthetic oil, petroleum- based oils such as paraffins and synthetic glycol-based fluids.

Van Dyk said that one the country’s leading suppliers of bituminous products uses a combination of thermal oil, electrical heat tracing (EHT) and flu gas to maintain plant temperature and subsequent operations and material viscosity.

However, the organisation has increasingly found that the thermal oil leads to high capital outlay and overall operational expenditure: oil condensates and evaporates; and prolongs plant maintenance and shut down time as it takes longer to reach specified temperatures.

As a result, this organisation now runs a hybrid heating solution which is made up of five percent thermal oil and the majority EHT. “Electrical heat tracing offers virtually no additional maintenance once installed and it significantly cuts down on shutdown and maintenance time as it reaches optimal temperature quicker,” he said.

“Reaction time is limited when a plant experiences downtime or a shutdown. According to the organisation, an effective heating solution like EHT is more feasible than thermal oil which takes much longer to become fully operational again.

“EHT also offers significant energy cost savings as it requires a lot less power to maintain temperature than thermal oil solutions. Also, due to advancements in EHT application, systems can be used virtually anywhere on a plant.”

He said additional thermal oil drawbacks included sudden electricity trips or unplanned shutdowns which may cause the oil to overheat, which in turn may cause degradation and sludge. This will necessitate cleaning and replenishing the oil.

Leaks especially in the combustion area can cause fire hazards and valves, gaskets and packings should be suitable for thermal oil use.

“EHT is undoubtedly the future and we hope to move over all our operations to heat tracing in the foreseeable future.”

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