The density of a heater refers to the wattage per square inch (W/in2). The lower the density, the lower the wattage per in2. Heavy oils require a lower watt density for proper heating.
Bitumen processing is especially reliant on low-density heaters. Bitumen is classified as an “extra-heavy oil” with an API gravity below 10°. A lower wattage is essential to achieve the optimal flow rates without damaging this heavy crude oil.
Bitumen processing is one of the key building blocks in our infrastructure. It provides us with the materials for everything from roads to roofing through a variety of bitumen heating applications.
Asphalt tanks are used to store PMA (Polymer Modified Asphalt) and liquid asphalt cement. To maintain the qualities and viability of these products, they need to remain within specific temperatures.
Flange immersion heaters provide asphalt tanks with reliable, accurate temperature maintenance. They provide even heating at low-densities, preventing changes in carbonation. Also, they pair well with accessories like low-level switches to prevent combustion, and thermocouples to improve accuracy and responsiveness.
Circulation heaters are another important application in bitumen heating. It allows for preheating and pumping crude oil, as well as providing waste oil heating in storage tanks.
Hot oil circulation processes can use direct or indirect heating methods. Direct heating provides more responsiveness and greater accuracy, whereas indirect places less strain on the heaters, and easier access for repairs.
For use as fuel, preheating is an important process. It results in more responsive and efficient combustion. Accurate temperature and wattage distribution improve the flow for pumping and the ease of combustion.
Low-density heaters aren’t just for bitumen and asphalt heating. They can benefit many industrial heating applications for more efficient and profitable operations.
A low watt density is able to provide more even heat distribution. This is especially true in large tanks where the wattage distribution may need to compensate for cold areas or heat loss on the sides/edges.
As well, the lower watt-density prevents overheating. The greater the watt density, the greater the temperature rise above ambient. This effect can be reduced through the material and finish selection, but wattage is a larger contributor.
Custom flange heater element configuration can further improve heat distribution. It allows the heater to better account for the size and shape of the tank.
Particulate buildup, burning, chemical separation and coking inside a tank can reduce both the quality of the product and the efficiency of the bitumen heater. Keeping a lower watt density reduces the risk of these events.
Mild and stainless steel sheath materials can also help reduce coking for certain mediums.
By reducing the potential damage to the product, companies can reduce loss, contributing to more profitable operations.
Electric immersion heaters already boast longer lifespans than their more complex, combustible, fossil fuel counterparts. Electric bitumen and asphalt heaters can further this effect by sticking with low watt density.
The lower density reduces the strain on the system, as well as preventing the buildup and coking that can damage the heater over time. A low-density heater not only improves its lifespan but maintains its efficiency longer.
Wattco custom-engineers immersion heaters for low-density heating applications, such as asphalt and bitumen heaters. Our team accounts for your specific processes and equipment to customize the optimal heater configuration for your heating process.
Contact Wattco today for electric immersion heater quotes and information.