Circulation Heaters in Petrochemical Applications

An Overview of Circulation Heaters’ Design and Their Use in Petrochemical Industry

Circulation heaters are widely used in the petrochemical industry in locations such as Calgary Alberta, for heating fluids, chemicals, and other mediums. Circulation oil heaters consist of a huge tube-like heating element, which is immersed, in the medium to be heated. Thermostat control panels allow variation of the temperature during petrochemical processes. From chemical processing to gasoline refining, process heaters such as circulation heaters are used in every petrochemical industry.

Design Configurations

Most circulation heaters are designed either in open loop or closed loop configuration. Here is a quick overview of both configurations:

Closed Loop
A closed loop system is one in which the medium or fluid to be heated circulates in a closed loop. Once heated by the circulation heater to the desired temperature, the fluid is sent back through the pumps to the vessel.

There are two ways through which a medium can be heated in closed loop configuration:
·         Indirect Heating– The chemical is heated in the industrial heater as it flows through it. The heated medium keeps on circulating in the vessel, covered with twisted pipes or coiled tubes.
·         Direct Heating– In direct heating, the heated medium is sent directly to the vessel or the closed loop system. However, selecting the right watt density according to the nature of the medium is very important.
Open Loop
As the name implies, open loop systems are the ones that are directly connected to the application. Circulation heaters when used in open loop configuration heat the medium to the set temperature and then directly discharge the heated medium where it is required.  

Applications in Petrochemical Industry

Following are some of the many uses of circulation heaters in petrochemical industry:
·         In the petrochemical industry, circulation heaters are used to preheat and raise the temperature of fluids, chemicals, gases, and other mediums used in the commercial industry.
·         Depending on the design and heating capacity of the temperature controller, circulation heaters can boost the heating process from 300 Kw up to 1000 Kw.
·         The heat controller present in these heaters allows heating of petrochemicals, oils and other fluids to the right amount so they can easily flow through pipelines.

Influencing Factors

The following factors influence the application, efficiency and precision of circulation heaters when used in the petrochemical industry:
·         Viscosity, density and specific heat of the medium being heated.
·         Corrosive properties of the medium and corrosion resistant properties of the heater.  
·         Extent of contamination and nature of contaminants (reactive or nonreactive) present in the medium.
·         Watt density and heat resistant properties of sheath material used in the heater.
·         Rate of heat flow of the heated material.
·         Material and design of the vessel containing fluid to be heated.
·         Temperature and pressure threshold values of the fluid being heated.

Maintenance Tips

Following are some easy and effective tips to extend the lifespan of circulation heaters:
·      Disconnect all the electric supplies and detach all the removable parts before clearing up the heater.
·      During cleanup process, carbon and sludge is often deposited on the inner walls of the heater. Use the outlet pipe to drain out all the debris from the heater. 
·         Make sure that the bolts are tightened up during the maintenance process. It will prevent the heater from corrosion.
·      Disbanding the detachable parts before maintenance can make the device easy to handle.
·      While using the heater check the thermostat. This can help evaluate the efficiency, performance and durability of the equipment. 

Get a quote on a circulation heater for your company today. Visit WATTCO’s product pages to learn more about inline heaters, control panels, and other industrial heating solutions.

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