Oil Flushing – Maintenance Recommendations for the Petrochemical Industry

This article provides maintenance recommendations for the petrochemical industry where day-to-day safety and business sustainability are important requirements. The petrochemical industry requires that industrial and process heating equipment be maintained at the highest level not only to reduce production shutdowns but also to protect the environment and the public from industrial disasters.

In the petrochemical industry, piping is used extensively for transporting liquid and gaseous substances.  Pipe degradation occurs because most of the substances carried are corrosive, combustible, and are transported at high pressures and temperatures. Accumulations of deposits and scale result. These materials affect the safe and reliable operation of pipes.

WATTCO recommends oil flushing in the petrochemical industry for cleaning and maintenance purposes. There are significant advantages. (See Figure 1.) Oil flushing is an important maintenance exercise for the petrochemical industry. It helps remove dirt/contaminants and deposits or scale. Timely oil flushing of industrial and process equipment—including pipes—contributes to reliable plant operation, reduces unpredictable shutdowns, and prevents leakage or explosion due to blockage caused by combustible substances.

Figure 1
WATTCO has created a variety of professional-grade immersion and circulation heaters for the petrochemical industry. Oil flushing equipment must include one of these industrial heaters to transport the hot oil used for cleaning pipes, transportation lines, and lubing hoses for the process equipment.

Choosing the Correct Heaters for Oil Flushing

Engineers and/or technicians responsible for maintenance activities play a vital role in choosing the correct heaters for oil flushing equipment.
The petrochemical industry depends on immersion heaters for cleaning process equipment, including pipes. Both flangedand screw plug immersion heatersare suitable for use in oil flushing. One reason for this is efficient heating of oil. These oil heaters are capable of applying heat directly to the oil.  
Maintenance engineers also monitor the temperature closely. Temperature control is an important feature of all immersion heaters.
Since the industrial and process equipment often carries combustible liquids and gases, maintenance engineers must ensure usage of high quality electrical wiring to prevent any kind of fire and explosion. For example, the Type E2 terminal box includes high quality electrical wiring that adheres to the National Electrical Code. The electrical wiring (of the terminal box) ensures the highest safety level. Immersion heaters include another important safety feature: automatic switching off of the electrical circuit when the high temperature limit has been exceeded.
For cleaning purposes, maintenance engineers may also choose circulation heaters to pre-heat heavy oils (with high viscosity) for smooth pumping. Circulation heaters are insulated so heat can’t escape. Maintenance engineers also prefer circulation heaters to deliver even temperatures for both light and medium-weight oil, along with its smooth flow characteristics.
In order to select the correct heater and its components, maintenance personnel should consider an appropriate sheath material based on target application. The factors that affect the sheath material selection are: viscosity, specific density, corrosion properties of the oil, and corrosion resistive properties of the sheath material itself. 
When choosing the most appropriate heater, maintenance personnel’s selection also considers: heat or Watt requirements, flange sizes, number of elements, kilowatt ratings and terminal enclosures.
The technician must take sufficient precautions when there is any danger of fire or explosion. This is particularly the case in the petrochemical industry. WATTCO provides specific terminal enclosures for use in adverse situations, for example, in the explosion-prone environment of the petrochemical industry.
Get a quote on a immersion heater today. View WATTCO’s other industrial heating products such as circulation heaters., pipe heaters, and other electric heating elements on the Our Products page.

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