In today’s industry, there are many processes in which the heat input is not possible through a direct system and must be done using thermal oil heating systems. This happens when the material to be heated is flammable, when it is possible to cause thermal decomposition thereof or the number of consumption points is considerable, or when necessary achieve uniform heating at a high temperature.
A substance that is to be used as a heat carrier must initially meet the following conditions:
- Be cheap and readily available
- Good thermal stability
- It must not attack the system’s construction materials
- Low volatility
- Good heat transfer properties
- Low freezing point and low viscosity
The heat transfer agent with the most favorable calorific properties is water since it can transfer large amounts of heat up to 100°C without pressure and the price of the product itself is not high and is readily available.
However, rises in temperatures impose considerable conditions on the facilities and materials. At 180°C, the water develops a steam pressure of 10 bar, reaching 50 bar at a temperature of 260°C. This implies a series of requirements (civil works, boiler driver) and inevitable risks. Furthermore, corrosion problems, maintenance and water treatment, are known to all. All this means that the indirect steam heating system is currently steeply declining.
With thermal oil heating systems, it is possible to operate with very low pressures, within a temperature range up to 350°C. Corrosion problems are non-existent, and their low risk makes it possible to locate the boilers in the plants themselves without the location of the boilers in the work plants themselves without the need for special civil engineering. On the other hand, since they always work in liquid phase, without changes of state during the process, it entails significant energy savings compared to the traditional and conventional steam circuit (enthalpic losses of the condensates).
Depending on their origin and characteristics, we may distinguish between synthetic and mineral thermal fluids. The first group is made up of oil that has been additivated in order to achieve an improvement in certain properties. Thermal mineral oils are combinations of hydrocarbons which have also been additivated, the basic difference between the two groups being the range of operating temperatures, which higher in synthetic thermal oils.
Thermal oil heating systems are conceptually very simple and have become suddenly prominent in all sectors and industrial processes.
ADVANTAGES OF THERMAL OIL HEATING SYSTEMS
The industrial uses of a thermal oil system provide many advantages:
- They enable use of advanced heat control systems
- Greater energy efficiency
- Economic savings
- Greater flexibility and adaptation to the exact, specific needs of each industrial activity.
- Thermal fluid technology can operate with very high temperatures, without this requiring high working pressures being needed to maintain those temperatures.
- Thermal oil avoids the risks of corrosion and scale, compared with other thermal systems, providing different automatic operation options which can help in the achievement of optimum efficiency of the heating system, adds minimum cost and with high safety levels for your company.
This means that thermal oil has many advantages and benefits in terms of efficiency and safety over other process heating systems.
INDUSTRIAL USES OF THERMAL OIL
An industrial heating system with thermal oil works through a coil using a combustion chamber. The coil takes the energy from the combustion using the system of oil pumped through it at low pressure. The thermal fluid enables the coils to be heated and, in this way, the heat is indirectly transferred to a consumer, through a hydraulic circuit. And like a steam boiler, the process of thermal oil heating does not affect the heater chassis, the spiral coil or the pipes, which means the process is much safer and allows faster, more efficient maintenance.
Whether the oil is mineral, synthetic or medicinal, the thermal oil heating system is easily adapted to the specific needs of each industry or company, whether in the petrochemical, food, automotive or lumber sectors, or indeed any other.
To make the procedure as safe as possible, the following are checked in all cases:
- The integral safety system guaranteeing correct system operation.
- Safety limits during every operation.
- Good burner regulation to produce the lowest possible emissions.
- Optimisation of the control loop for optimum temperature control.
- Allocation of strictly trained maintenance personnel and operators.
The result is an efficient, advanced, economic heating system, which can mean applied to all sectors and businesses which require an efficient, indirect heating system which produces better productivity, minimum costs, and improved safety system and better quality of the end product, a result of the uniform heating system applied to every product.