Heating Technologies

Heating Technologies

Many piping systems require some level of heating for effective processing.  In general, there are three basic heating applications:

Bulk Temperature Maintenance
In this application, the process fluid needs to be maintained at a certain temperature to prevent solidification and/or ensure proper reaction.  This is the most common and basic heating application.

Wall Temperature Maintenance
In this application, the pipe or vessel wall must be maintained above a certain temperature to prevent condensation, solidification, and/or corrosion.  This heating application is most common with vapor applications where the entire pipe wall must be maintained above the vapor dewpoint temperature.  The design of a heating system for wall temperature maintenance can be complicated and typically requires computer modeling to calculate the temperature profile within the pipe/vessel wall.

Heat Exchanger
In this application, the process fluid must be heated up or cooled down as part of the process design.  Heat exchanger applications typically require the highest heat transfer rates.

There are three important considerations in selecting the right heating technology:

1.  Thermal Capability
Different heating technologies have different thermal capabilities.  A heat exchanger application will require maximum thermal capability, but using the same heating system in a freeze-protection application will likely result in excessive capital and operational expense.  Another heating system may be able to compensate for heat loss to the ambient but may be incapable of supplying enough heat to melt out the process following a loss of utilities.

2.  Safety and Reliability
Safety and reliability considerations must include the heating technology as well as its supporting utilities infrastructure.  For some process applications, cross contamination (between the heating medium and process) can lead to serious safety risk which can be eliminated with the right technology selection.   In general, total system reliability decreases with increasing component count.  For steam heating systems, total system reliability can be improved with an engineered system that optimizes the number of steam circuits and steam traps.

3.  Cost
Total Cap-Ex costs should also include the supporting utilities infrastructure.  Additionally, a heating technology that requires a greater utilities infrastructure (such as steam traps) will result in greater ongoing Op-Ex costs.