Electrical heat tracing (EHT) has emerged as a vital component in temperature maintenance for the transportation of liquefied products, according to Andrea Hector, GM of eltherm South Africa. Containers that carry glucose, oils, bitumen acids, molten sulphur are a few of the products that are transported over long distances. These containers, which include tankers, must load, transport and deliver various products within specified temperatures. 

Bitumen, for example, must flow freely from the relevant storage containers to the point of application. However due to its high viscosity, it is notorious for blocking pipelines and causing delays. To ensure that bitumen continues to flow freely over long distance, the temperature within tankers must be maintained at 120 degrees Celsius.

Frik Van Dyk, Engineering Manager at eltherm South Africa, says that the installation of an EHT system on tankers can offer many benefits. In the case of bitumen, reheating often burns the product, leading to unwanted carbon build up and blockages, which can result in a sub-standard substance.

EHT for transport solutions on the rise in SAThe EHT cabling is attached and insulated on the outside of the tankers. Each installation is designed and engineered to perform as per the specific requirements of the liquefied products, and the cable generates heat over the surface of the container, in turn heating up the product inside the container.

The system has temperature controllers and sensors that will regulate the product within pre-set parameters. The EHT system is powered by a generator which is mounted on the tankers, or an external supply is provided if the container is parked.

“The weight of fuel powered tankers can weigh between 700kg and 1500kg. This additional weight has an impact on fuel costs. An EHT system is low maintenance as no flues need to be replaced. With its low system weight and ability to maintain heat during stationary time, due to an external power supply, there is relatively no standing time, which makes this method of heating tankers very efficient,” Van Dyk explains.

“An EHT system offers optimised control. Depending on the system the customer chooses to install, the drivers can monitor the temperature and adjust it if necessary. Also, the product and the system temperature can be monitored and logged over a period to ensure it is maintained and insurance coverage is in place.”

Hector adds that this form of temperature regulation and control is used extensively in Europe, where it has become commonplace, and is now an invaluable part of the transport process. “In South Africa, the market is also enjoying significant growth. We’re going through an exciting growth period; organisations are realising that to safely maintain their liquids and materials during transport they have to employ an effective heat regulating system – EHT offers a safe, cost-effective and reliable option,” she concludes.


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