Heating Biodiesel

Situation
Interest in alternative energies in the United States is growing at an exponential rate, as the search for alternative and cleaner fuel sources becomes more challenging. The use of biofuel has been exceptionally popular in Brazil where up to 50 percent of the country’s population use this as an alternative to traditional diesel fuel. Biodiesel is made from vegetable and animal fat based derivatives in places like North Dakota and is created through chemical reactions between lipids (vegetable or animal based oil fat) with an alcohol. Biodiesel is now very popular in North America and around the world as diesel engines are modified to accept it when blended with petro diesel or alone as an alternative fuel source.  A major manufacturer of biodiesel located in Oklahoma contacted Wattco with a problem. The biodiesel, which traditionally used immersion heaters to preheat it, had caustic characteristics and was causing the elements to fail at an unacceptable high frequency rate.  Because of this, production was down often and the company was unable to meet their obligations with their customers.
 
Solution
The situation was carefully analyzed and researched using samples of the caustic biodiesel that went for lab analysis. The results were conclusive. The concentration of the caustic biodiesel solution was excessive for the heater that was specified. As a result, corrosion settled in and caused the industrial heater to fail.  Wattco reengineered the immersion heater with several modifications, notably:
1)      The watt density was reduced to 25 Watts per square inch to accommodate the high caustic concentration.
2)      The original industrial heating solution had a steel sheath. Wattco substituted it for stainless steel 316 that has more resistive qualities for harsh environments
3)      Wattco also allowed for a better flow within the heater by separating the individual haripins and adding a center pipe and baffles. This would help prevent buildup on individual elements and help provide a longer life of the heater.
4)      Wattco also used a thicker sheath wall thickness (.035 inch) for better structural integrity of the elements.

Benefits
·          A lower watt density increases the life of the heater element
·         A better quality sheath material offers better resistance to corrosive elements
·         Maintenance is low as the elements last longer
·         Production downtime problem has been addressed leaving the company to be productive.

Get a quote on an immersion heater today! WATTCO also manufactures other industrial heating products such as pipe heaters, circulation heaters and control panels. Visit the Our Products page for more information.

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