How to Make the Most Out of your Thermal Fluid Heating System

Properly planning can make the design, construction, and operation, of a thermal oil heat transfer system cost-effective. When starting with common design layouts and continuing through operations, cleaning, and troubleshooting, the tips below can serve as a great guide:

Carefully Plan the Thermal Fluid System Layout

Layouts need to be specifically designed for a facility to meet the needs of a process. At a minimum, each system must have a heater, expansion tank, and a pump.

Be Smart with your Choice of System Components

These components include piping, flanges, threaded installations, insulation, studs, gaskets, pumps, nuts, and others. As you specify components for a hot oil system, ensure they are designed for hot oils systems and for temperature that exceeds the bulk temperature of the tank.

Handle Fluid Safely

It is imperative to follow simple recommendations for storing the fluid, filling the system, and removing air pockets to ensure the safe handling of fluid. When you store the fluid, make sure to protect the drums from exposure to direct sunlight and precipitation. Before you fill or refill the system, open the bleed valves, process block valves and other valves that connect to the system to the tank.  Pumping the heat transfer fluids into the system can be done by using any portable or drum pump with enough capacity. Add the fluid at the lowest point of the system, at the circulating pump’s suction side.

Prolong Fluid Life

You can increase the fluid service life and the operating efficiency by reducing thermal cracking, oxidation, and contamination. When the temperature of the fluid is exceeded for a period of time, excessive thermal cracking and premature fluid failure will take place. This can be resolved by maintaining the design fluid velocity at all times through the heater, avoiding rapid shutdowns, bringing cold systems up to temperature slowly, and checking the combustion chamber for improper flame propagation.

To deal with heat transfer fluid oxidation, the temperature of the expansion tank must be kept below 140°F (60°C).  Also, it is important to maintain a positive net pump suction head. To avoid system contamination, all fabrication debris or protective coatings in new systems must be removed before assembly. The system must be pressured tested with inert gas or heat transfer fluid. If you are using organic-based solvents, ensure the system is completely drained from all system low points when cleaning the system. In everyday operations, a fresh fluid must be used for topping off the system.

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