Immersion Heaters and viscosity in the Petroleum Industry

Oil viscosity has been an important topic within the petroleum industry as engineers are trying to develop advanced methods to help facilitate the transport of petroleum fluids over long distances. In particular, crude oil that is transported and delivered in from one region such as Alaska, must be transported to refineries in Calgary, Alberta or in Houston Texas.

Immersion heaters are used to address the challenges of oil viscosity. When heat is applied, the oil gets less viscous and an easier flow is achieved. The advantages of electric heaters is that it is safe, does not use fossil fuels and the least expensive of all the heating alternatives that exist. Gas heaters have been found to be unsafe in working areas as well as expensive in both maintenance costs as well as the price of gas increases.

Circulation Heaters that are used in this application have explosion proof terminal housing and made of carbon steel. Thermocouples are also used to regulate temperature accurately as the temperature of crude oil cannot pass 500 degrees F. Additional types of oils that use electric heaters are lubricating oils, heat transfer oils as well as mineral oil and vegetable oil. Each have their own unique flash point and heaters are designed with specific alloys to handle any corrosive side effects.