Advantages of Preheating Crude Oil With Electric Flanged Heaters

Crude oil refining is one of the most complex chemical processes in the petrochemical industry. As such, it requires sophisticated equipment for accuracy and efficiency.

Oil is a diverse substance that we use for everything from vehicle fuel to roofing shingles. No matter what the final use, it all starts as crude oil. Crude oil needs to be separated and processed to become a usable product.

To accomplish this, it has to go through a fractioning column where it separates into different fractions for processing. To move efficiently through the column, you need to start with preheating.

The best option for preheating crude oil is an electric flanged heater.

fractionating column

Advantages of Using an Immersion Heater for Preheating

Flange heaters are one of the most popular types of industrial immersion heaters. Immersion heaters are particularly useful in processes like preheating crude oil as they offer several distinct advantages:


Preheating crude oil is one of the highest points of energy consumption during processing. And yet, traditional preheating furnaces lose a significant amount of energy, due to a lack of control and accuracy. As such, more industries are turning to electric immersion heaters for their superior efficiency.

The direct immersion in the crude oil allows for rapid heating with less wasted energy. This makes your process faster and reduces operational costs. As well, it allows for a much greater degree of control and accuracy.

Flow Control

Flow is an important variable in processing crude oil. Controlling and responding to variables in flow and pressure are essential functions in immersion heating. The higher the viscosity, the greater the flow and smoother the pumping. To achieve the ideal viscosity we preheat oil before processing.

Structural Dynamics Of Flow

A circulation heater preheating fuel oil before use or processing.

 Immersion heaters use digital control panels and thermocouples to accurately control temperature and flow. For further control, they can use a viscometer, such as the Saybolt Universal Viscometer.

The viscometer measure in Seconds Saybolt Universal (SSU), which measures how quickly a medium flows at a given temperature. This measurement can determine the optimal temperature to achieve optimal flow and product quality. This further improves efficiency, accuracy, and control.

Advantages of Preheating Crude Oil With a Flanged Heater

Flanged heaters are among the most popular heater type in the petrochemical industry. This heater type allows for an array of flange elements, customized to the size and shape of your tank. This arrangement offers key advantages for preheating crude oil.

Uniform Heating

The uniformity of heating during preheating has a direct impact on energy consumption and product quality. Fortunately, this is an area where flange elements shine. The custom flange arrangement allows for even heating for a consistent product and optimal efficiency. 

Material Selection

Crude oil has several corrosive compounds that can damage equipment and negatively impact processes. As such, oil and gas processing heaters require careful material selection. The typical production environment can cause significant corrosion on some types of steel.

A flanged heater has several different options for sheath materials, to protect itself from corrosion without limiting efficiency. Some popular flange sheath materials include:

  • Steel
  • Stainless Steel
  • Copper
  • Hastalloy
  • Inconel
  • Titanium

As well as different materials, the wattages and voltages are fully customizable for safety and efficiency.

Ease of Maintenance

Although the technology in controlling temperature and flow is sophisticated, the heater equipment itself uses a simple design. This improves the reliability of the system as well as easing maintenance.

Regular maintenance of flanged heaters is simple, you can use a standard power washer to remove any build-up of residue or contaminants.

As well, the simple design helps to ensure a long lifespan. And if there is a failure, elements are easily replaced, keeping repair times and costs low.

Get a Quote on Oil & Gas Process Heaters

Wattco provides custom oil and gas process heaters for preheating crude oil and other applications. Our team can help determine the ideal materials, settings, and arrangements for your electric flanged heater.

Contact us today for a quote or more information.