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FEATURE FACILITIES MANAGEMENT


WHY CONSIDER thermal fluid heating?


connected to carbon steel flow and return pipework with a thermal fluid operating as the heat transfer medium rather than water. Different fluids including a wide range of mineral oils or synthetic based fluids can be used to meet specific process heating requirements and in some cases doubling as the cooling agent. Thermal fluid does not cause corrosion


or scale, requires very little maintenance, is not subject to frost damage and does not need to be kept under pressure so there is no risk of a corrosion based leak of pressurised hot water and no need for annual shutdown inspection. Furthermore, thermal fluids do not


require any chemical intervention. The oil typically lasts up to a decade and with it being contained in a closed circuit no loss system, the only effluent is the exhaust from the heater


Thermal fluid heating is a cost-effective solution that does not cause corrosion and does not need to be maintained under pressure, writes Chris Horsley of Babcock Wanson


W


hile water heating based on the domestically familiar scenario of


electrically powered immersion heater elements or a simple gas fired heater may be a simple and effective approach it can be inefficient depending on the process needs you are trying to meet. Such systems can be inexpensive to


install depending on the degree of support plant required but it is the overall operating cost that will really make the difference as to which design is the correct choice. Direct heating using gas or oil fired burners either mounted under a tank or by immersed tube are additional methods that can be applied but this type of system can take a toll on the equipment being heated. A further familiar form of heating


which is often considered when the process has limited heating surface or the temperature is close to or above 100°C is the use of high pressure hot water. It’s tried, tested and proven to be effective but there are high ongoing maintenance, inspection and insurance costs, potential safety issues and the ever present risk of corrosion.


STEAM GENERATORS A further option is to use a steam generator, heating the process using


10 MARCH 2014 | FACTORY EQUIPMENT


simple, high output, heat exchangers. Modern, fast response steam generators are able to deliver steam on demand when already hot or on standby or within a few minutes if the generator is cold. Unlike other traditional boilers, steam


generators do not require extensive buildings or supervision and are easy to operate and maintain. However, where there’s water there remains the potential for corrosion and the time demand and cost of annual inspection still remain. So is there a way of combining the benefits of steam generators while avoiding the use of water as the key heat source? Yes - a thermal fluid system consists of a gas or oil fired heater


Operating a thermal fluid heating system requires minimal training and virtually no


day-to-day involvement


ENERGY EFFICIENCY Such a design makes for great energy efficiency with thermal fluid heating systems regularly boasting 30% energy savings over steam systems. Packaged as a compact unit, special site work is generally not required. A further consideration is ease of use.


With other systems varying degrees of skill and experience are required to operate the system effectively, especially where handling chemicals for water treatment is concerned.


MINIMAL TRAINING Operating a thermal fluid heating system requires minimal training and virtually no day to day involvement. The system can even be pre-programmed for specific processes so it may not be up there with the greatest engineering challenges of our day but for processes that require a plentiful and reliable supply of heat, selecting the right heat raising system is vital; it’s vital to ensure the heat is there when it’s needed and at the correct temperature, that it’s cost-efficient to install, operate and run and that it has minimal environmental impact. For the large majority of applications,


A thermal fluid system consists of a gas or oil fired heater connected to carbon steel flow and return pipework with a thermal fluid


operating as the heat transfer medium rather than water


this is best achieved with a thermal fluid heating system. Babcock Wanson offers a complete range of products and services for boiler houses and additional process heating needs. These include steam boilers, thermal fluid heaters, rapid steam generators and hot water boilers to VOC and odour treatment by thermal oxidation, water treatment or process air heating solutions.


Babcock Wanson T: 020 895 37111 www.babcock-wanson.co.uk Enter 303


/ FACTORYEQUIPMENT


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