Electric Immersion Heaters for Refineries

Refineries count on electric immersion heaters to keep their processes safe, efficient, and reliable. With the current oil & gas boom in North America, the efficiency of electric immersion heaters makes them a must-have for all sorts of refinery applications. Liquids and gases receive direct heating from immersion heaters. This helps them achieve target temperatures fast and efficiently. Immersion also makes monitoring and maintaining temperature and viscosity more accurate. In addition to operational efficiency, electric immersion heaters are so important because they allow refineries to reduce costs. Just about everything else involved in refining oil comes with a high price tag. Raw materials and equipment are expensive. But electric heating allows for big savings, especially for large processes. Electric heating is much more cost-effective than natural gas and reduces the environmental impact. With North American governments pressuring oil & gas companies to reduce emissions, many green initiatives are eligible for funding. In addition to lower operational costs, and potential government funding or rebates, the efficiency of electric immersion heaters means better production speeds at lower costs. Some of the most common uses for electric immersion heaters in oil & gas refineries are:

  • Pipelines
  • Storage/Tank Heating
  • Freeze Protection
  • Sterilization


Electric Immersion Heaters For Pipelines

Pipelines are the most cost-effective way to transport oil. At as little as 1/3rd  of the cost of shipping oil by rail, it’s no surprise we rely so heavily on pipeline transportation. There are ~2,175,000 miles of pipeline across the world, sending over 15 billion barrels of oil every year. To transport that much oil effectively and without damaging equipment or oil requires a reliable heating method. Electric immersion heaters are the preferred method for this. They are able to maintain smooth and rapid flow with precision heating for consistent viscosity. Immersion heaters for pipelines typically use sheaths for indirect heating. The reason for this is twofold:

  1. To keep maintenance requirements to a minimum.
  2. The heating elements are replaceable without having to empty the pipeline section.

Both of these help to ensure minimal interruption in the pipeline system.  

Storage Tank Heating With Electric Immersion Heaters

Refineries have a number of applications for storage tank heating. Among the most important is fuel storage. Distilled fuel needs to be stored at high temperature. If left at room temperature, this fuel is easily contaminated. One of the best options for distilled fuel storage is an electric flange heater. Flanged heaters use a bundle of elements immersed in the fuel to provide accurate high-temperature readings. In smaller tanks, screw plug heaters also make for an ideal heating solution. One of the benefits of using screw plug or flanged immersion heaters is that they work effectively in a tank that is sealed to contain explosions. This makes storage tank heating safe, without reducing efficiency. Electric immersion heaters are a cost-effective and efficient way to heat crude oil safely. This is a crucial step before the fractional distillation process. They also are used to maintain the target temperature for lubrication oils while in storage. Lube oil is essential to maintain heavy machinery in refineries. Installing an immersion heater in the lube oil reservoir keeps the lubricant at the required temperature for effective use.  

Freeze Protection

In both pipelines and storage, freeze protection is a critical function of immersion heaters. Oil that falls below the optimal temperature turns into a gel-like substance. This gel state is, at worst irreversible or, at best slow and costly to return to a usable state. Either way, it slows down processes and escalates costs. You can outfit electric immersion heaters with temperature sensors that function automatically. It is the best way to be proactive about freeze prevention. They can also be customized with sensors that detect levels in pipelines or storage tanks. If the oil levels drop too low and expose the heater elements, there is potential for explosion. This occurs when exposed elements contacting combustible fumes. Using sensors causes an automatic shutdown if the level drops too low. This reduces the potential of explosion.  

Sterilization for Refineries

Deionized water is extremely corrosive. So processes that rely on heating deionized water to sterilize equipment need to be corrosion resistant. The customizability of immersion heater materials makes them an ideal choice for such processes. Custom flange materials for immersion heaters allow them to withstand corrosive mediums. Composition of copper or titanium alloys, as well as Inconel® and Incoloy®, are corrosion and temperature resistant. Heating Corrosive Solutions

Picking An Electric Immersion Heater For Oil & Gas Refineries

WATTCO electric immersion heaters are designed for maximum safety, efficiency, and reliability. This is making them the first choice for a growing number of oil & gas refineries.They are highly customizable to meet the needs of any application. Contact us today for more information or a quote.