ControTrace® bolt-on heating elements have been the preferred steam tracing solutions for heating pipe, tanks, and vessels since 1980. These thermal solutions are a cost-effective alternative to fully jacketed piping and, in comparison to steam tracing, offer greater heating capacities and reliability. These heating elements also prevent cross-contamination between the heating medium and the process. Today, over five hundred miles of ControTrace® heat tracing elements are in service in plants and refineries around the globe.
The basic configuration of a ControTrace® heat tracing element is a 2-in. by 1-in. rectangular tube formed of SA178 Grade A boiler tubing. One of the 2-in. sides is contoured to closely fit the outside diameter of the pipe or vessel onto which it will be placed. The standard wall thickness is 1/8 in., ensuring ample robustness and pressure-containing capability. These heating elements can be rated for higher pressure steam as well. Individual elements are fabricated to specific lengths. The ends of the tubing are closed (seal welded), and inlet and outlet connections are added to enable heating medium transfer. When multiple elements are required, these are most often joined together in a panel configuration to minimize the number of inlet/outlet connections. ControTrace® is secured to the pipe or vessel with high-strength banding (no welding is required). Before banding, a thin layer of heat transfer compound is spread onto the surface that will be in contact with the pipe or vessel.
During operation, the heating medium (typically steam or heating fluid) flows through the heating element and transfers its heat through the heat transfer compound and into the pipe/vessel wall and into the process. The number of heating elements required depends upon the design objective and the design conditions. Most ControTrace® applications are designed to maintain a process temperature (to keep liquid flowing) or a minimum pipe/vessel wall temperature (to prevent vapor condensation). CSI utilizes finite-difference computer modeling to simulate and predict temperature profiles and heat transfer rates based upon process, ambient, piping, and insulation conditions. The computer model has been corroborated time and again with empirical field data.