What Purpose Do Chemical Heaters in the Industrial Sector Serve?

Many standard products and processes require chemicals to be heated at specific temperatures. Of course, that necessitates using heaters that can produce such temperatures. This post will examine chemical heaters’ role in the industrial world and which ones work best to heat these compounds. 

Chemical processing and process heating

Compounds such as petroleum or natural gases must undergo chemical processing before we can use them as viable petrochemicals. That includes the likes of gasoline, kerosene used for heating and lighting, and petroleum jelly (i.e., Vaseline). Different methods exist, but process heating is one of the most popular and effective.

Process heating typically involves the use of a thermal fluid system. A heat transfer liquid gets recirculated through the system using a pump through a heat exchanger. This recirculation increases the temperature of the heat transfer liquid to sustain the heat needed for other processes. 

Chemical heaters facilitate the process. These vessels are similar to traditional water heaters, except they can withstand significantly higher temperatures and corrosive substances.

The bottom line is this: society relies on many products, processes, and procedures that need certain chemicals to work. For these chemicals to be usable, they must undergo significant heating in various forms, and the only way to heat them is with a chemical heater. 

Applications that need chemical heaters

Chemical heating and processing infiltrate all areas of society, spanning various industries, ranging from energy to agriculture. These industries rely on particular tasks that involve the efficient heating of certain substances. 

Common uses for a chemical heater

  • Ammonia heating:  Heating ammonia is a crucial agricultural process for use in fertilizers. For it to be usable, though, ammonia must be heated at 40°F in a chemical heater. 
  • Freeze protection:  Although some applications involve keeping chemicals at very low temperatures, they still need to be warm enough not to freeze altogether. A chemical heater can help prevent freezing or poor flow in such cases. 
  • Glycol reboiling:  Miners extract water from natural gases to avoid complications through glycol dehydration. This process requires high temperatures that only chemical heaters can facilitate. 
  • Plant utility heating:  Power plant heating systems often apply heat to desired locations and equipment that use chemicals. By nature, they require specific chemical heaters. 
  • Steam superheating:  Turbines and other engines rely on steam to give them propulsion. However, they require immense temperatures, and that’s why the steam requires added heating (often from a chemical heater). 

There are many other applications for chemical heaters. If you work in a heavily industrial sector, you will likely encounter chemicals that need high temperatures for processing. Here at Wattco, we engineer chemical heaters that can meet these demands and help you find the right solution for your industry. 

Common types of chemical heaters

Chemical heating processes can differ tremendously among industries, even within one industry. You might need a custom-made chemical heater to meet the requirements of your industry, especially for highly acidic or corrosive chemicals. Nevertheless, some types of heaters suit a variety of chemical applications.

Over the side heaters

Over the side heaters — including chemical heaters — get mounted to the top of a vessel or tank and then secured with brackets. These heaters abound in the petrochemical and chemical manufacturing sectors since they can produce high temperatures while withstanding the harshest conditions. 

A key benefit of over-the-side heaters is that they allow ample room in a tank so that other chemical processes can occur. Also, they’re available in various materials, including steel, copper, and titanium. The best choice of material depends on the application. 

Flanged heaters

Flanged heaters incorporate hairpin or tubular elements to apply heat directly to liquid mediums. They’re available in various alloys that can resist corrosion, including stainless steel, copper, titanium, and Inconel®. These heaters can facilitate lubricant oils, waxes, and mildly corrosive liquids. 

Some of these compounds include soaps, detergents, and demineralized or deionized water. That said, flanged heaters come with different voltages, sheath materials, temperature ranges, and kilowatt ratings. Again, the right presets will depend on your application. 

Choosing the right chemical heater for your industry 

Selecting the right chemical heater for your industry can be tricky, even if you’re well acquainted with a particular operation. Calculations and an understanding of certain factors, such as temperature and wattages, will matter, because they affect the composition of certain chemicals. However, it doesn’t have to be an overly complicated task. 

Here at Wattco, we have a team of researchers, scientists, and engineers who build heaters for specific chemical applications. Get in touch with us. Our representatives will pass that knowledge on to you and help you choose the right chemical heater for the job.