Immersion process heaters have gained a well-deserved reputation for versatility in the manufacturing industry. Simply put, they can fulfill an incredible variety of functions, whether it’s chemical applications, food and agriculture, or melting and other fluid heating demands.
In fact, immersion heaters are often used as replacements for fuel-based fluid heaters, infrared, microwave, resistance heaters, reactors, and other types of furnaces.
One of the most versatile areas of application for immersion heaters is in freeze protection, especially in wastewater treatment.
Flanged and screw-plug immersion heaters are important for keeping wastewater equipment and wastewater itself from freezing, which can halt treatment processes in their tracks. Not only do process interruptions sometimes cause unintended overflows into waterways, they also violate state and national regulations, which can be a disaster.
But preventing shutdowns of water treatment plants in cold-weather areas is even more challenging because explosive or flammable gases and dust are sometimes created — or stored in the wastewater. Fortunately, immersion heaters can be designed for such hazardous applications.
One of the most interesting ways immersion heating finds new applications is in melting. The U.S. Department of Energy is exploring immersion heaters as an energy-efficient way of melting zinc, which has a relatively low melting point compared to other metals.
In other, even higher-temperature melting, immersion heating is finding a place among a few very specialized techniques. Because traditional ceramic protection has a hard time resisting such high temperatures (and also because extra layers of ceramic protection reduce heating efficiency), other metallic alloys are being explored to create parts of these heating elements. One such alloy is Ni3Si, which can resist sulfuric acid, seawater, and ammonia at temperatures up to 1,650 degrees Fahrenheit, according to research cited in this government publication.
Clearly, immersion process heating not only has a variety of dynamic applications in the manufacturing industry — it also has a widening set of applications due to newer research that will bring it into high-temperature melting applications.
When considering immersion heating technology for your industrial heating needs, consider Wattco’s line of immersion process heaters. Depending on the type of application, our immersion heaters are used in three types: flanged heaters, circulation (or in-line) heaters, and over-the-side heaters — although in manufacturing they’re often custom-engineered for a specific application.
Flanged immersion heaters (a.k.a flanged heaters) are often used in pressurized systems, such as industrial water boilers and other storage tanks that sometimes contain various fuels, caustic solutions, or solvents. These heaters are bolted directly into a companion flange that is mounted on the tank, creating a pressurized seal through which heat can be generated in the tank.
Many applications are available for flanged heaters, including oils, glycol solutions, paraffin wax, process water, and chemical baths.
Circulation heaters are great for heating a liquid quickly to a precise temperature. These heaters are all-in-one units that house a heater mounted inside its tank, along with two pipes: an inlet and an outlet. The fluid circulates through the pipes and leaves at the desired temperature. Some great advantages of circulation heaters are their fast response time and very even heat distribution.
In non-pressurized systems, an over-the-side heater can simply be dropped into a tank, where its heating element will reach along the wall to the bottom of the tank. These heaters are easier to remove for cleaning, yet they still offer the same advantages of even heat distribution.
One of the many uses for over-the-side heaters is to prevent the freezing of various liquids. These heaters are often used in food industry applications to keep products like grease and lard at a specific temperature, usually using a pre-wired thermostat.
Get a quote on an immersion heater today. WATTCO also manufactures other industrial heating products such as infrared heaters, control panels, circulation heaters and more. Click here to view all of our products.