A Closer Look At Nitrogen Heaters

The type of circulation heaters you use is largely dependant on the fluid or medium being heated. Heating nitrogen, for instance, requires specific considerations. Safety is often a concern with nitrogen as it is prone to explosions if mishandled.

We take a look at nitrogen heaters, some of their benefits, and some of the applications that use them.

Nitrogen Circulation Heater

The benefits of nitrogen heaters

Nitrogen heaters are designed to address the specific needs that come with heating nitrogen. They help keep processes safe, efficient, and cost-effective.


Nitrogen heaters offer safety

Wattco nitrogen heater design offers a 100% dry environment. This is essential. Nitrogen is an inert gas that is used in processes where water can cause an explosion if it contacts the heated chemical. Moisture can build up easily inside of tanks, and vaporized chemicals can have an elevated risk of contacting water. The use of a nitrogen heater helps to eliminate this risk.

For further safety, different housings are available. Control panels can be made with a NEMA 7 designation (explosion proof).  This helps to protect processes and equipment. As well, the installation of digital temperature monitors and alarms increase safety.


Circulation heaters have lower maintenance requirements

Nitrogen circulation heaters have long lifespans. They also have low maintenance needs. So processes are less prone to failure and require fewer stoppages. With custom sheath and element materials available, such as INCOLOY, circulation heaters are built to withstand the mediums they are immersed in.


Nitrogen circulation heaters are mountable

Many applications that require nitrogen heaters also require mobility. Wattco circulation heaters are easy to mount. They can go inside tanks, mounted on wheels, or on lifts. When you need heat in hard-to-reach places, mounting a nitrogen heater is a prime solution.

Electric circulation heaters are more efficient

Electric circulation heaters are available for nitrogen heating applications. Electricity is more cost-efficient than fossil fuels, with lower operational costs. They are also more efficient, able to reach temperatures faster and with less lost energy in the process.


Applications of Nitrogen Heaters

Nitrogen heaters are used in a variety of industries. Some of the notable applications include:

  • Polysilicon manufacturing
  • Solar photovoltaic manufacturing
  • Rocket facilities


Polysilicon manufacturing industries

Polysilicon manufacturing often uses the chemical Silicon Tetrachloride (STC). If STC comes into contact with water an explosion can occur. The highest likelihood of this happening is with vaporized STC.

A nitrogen circulation heater design prevents this from occurring by creating a 100% dry environment. The circulation heater purges pipes with hot nitrogen to ensure complete dryness.

Polysilicon processing plants are generally built tall, with heights ranging from 200 to 700 feet. To handle this, the heaters are mounted on secure skids that can be lifted as needed.


Solar photovoltaic manufacturing

Solar photovoltaics (PV) is the fastest growing energy technology today. The majority of PV demand is met by manufacturers in China and Taiwan. But there is significant growth in Canada and the USA as well.

Nitrogen circulation heaters are commonly used in PV manufacturing. They offer a high level of energy efficiency and uniform heat distribution. The nitrogen heater is mounted on a storage tank that can hold hot nitrogen. It also comes equipped with temperature sensors and monitors connected to a digital control panel. This helps to meet safety requirements and ensure efficiency.


Rocket facilities

Nitrogen heating isn’t rocket science – but it can be. Wattco helped a rocket facility in Florida choose the appropriate circulation heater. Nitrogen needs to be preheated before pre-launch procedures. So the heater is crucial to the launch process.

They needed an industrial heater capable of heating nitrogen at high temperatures and withstanding high pressure. It also needed to be mobile, safe, and have accurate controls.

We were able to meet the exact needs and custom considerations with a carefully selected circulation heater and setup.

We selected a horizontally mounted double skid circulation heater with ANSI stainless steel flanges. This allowed for mobility as well as protecting the flanges from corrosion.

The addition of thermocouples helps regulate gas temperatures accurately. As well, we selected perforated baffles, which allow the gas to flow more easily.

The system we designed used 4 circuits, each with its own NEMA 7 terminal box. This provides a higher degree of safety, as well as allowing for easy connections.

In addition to the NEMA 7 explosion proof housing, control panels were paired with SCR, digital temperature monitors, and alarm indicators to provide greater security and control.

The result was an industrial circulation heating system that provides:

  • Heavy duty industrial power
  • High degree of safety
  • Extended warranty
  • Suitability to a Class 1 Div II hazardous area classification
  • A redundancy system
  • Low maintenance circulation heater


Nitrogen heater types

There are all sorts of configurations available for nitrogen heaters. But, generally, they are all flange heaters. Flange heaters offer high efficiency through direct immersion. Custom element configurations allow fast, even heat distribution for maximum flow.

Flange heaters are ideal for nitrogen heating. They can handle high PSIs and offer the high temperature outputs needed to heat nitrogen and create a dry environment.


Picking the right nitrogen heater configuration

Picking the right nitrogen heater configuration for your process improves efficiency and safety. Contact a Wattco representative today for a quote or help selecting a nitrogen circulation heater.