MechChem Africa

Dirk Venter from eltherm South Africa, a heat-tracing specialist, highlights the energy savings and reliability advantages of using electrical heat tracing (EHT) solutions to maintain fluids at an optimum viscosity.

In a time where energy conservation has become paramount, the imminent winter months bring its own set of efficiency challenges. South African organisations face escalating energy usage and expenditure – during colder months – all in an effort to run operations within prescribed temperature perimeters.

eltherm heat tracing solutionsFortunately, technology innovation has led to some effective solutions that enable manufacturers to keep products at an optimal temperature, lowering viscosity and ensuring that it is easier to transport around the plant during the colder months.

One such solution is electrical heat tracing (EHT) which can assist plant and process managers to alleviate stubborn viscosity sensitive products and processes.

EHT lowers the viscosity of many processes as it acts as a compensating heat source to maintain or raise the heat in pipes, tanks, surfaces and other vessels. It effectively replaces the heat loss in the process and can therefore be used to prevent product from gelling or freezing, whilst maintaining the low viscosity of the process on plant equipment.

Ultimately, EHT helps ensure that pumps don’t malfunction due to cavitation and pipes don’t get blocked, mitigating costly repairs, maintenance and potential downtime.

Heat tracing can also provide significant cost reductions and energy conservation as it regulates temperature ensuring that during uncharacteristically cold days, other costly sources such as flange or gas heater don’t have to be used to compensate for unplanned heat loss.

Self-regulating EHT comes into play here as it provides a controlled wattage, effectively maintaining a fixed target temperature without external control. This in turn drives downtime spent to maintain temperature as well as continuously adjusting the temperature, or worse, be caught unawares as it becomes colder.

Self-regulating EHT therefore reduces power output as temperature increases and conversely increases it systematically as the temperature lowers, which in turn leads to improved energy efficiency.

Winter not only impacts industry, colder days and the resultant higher viscosity can also impact domestic water supply as well as reliable drainage of rain and waste water, leading to freeze damage and ultimately frozen and burst pipes.

To prevent freeze damage, EHT can be installed on vulnerable pipes, preventing them from freezing. Again, a customised, self-regulating heat tracing solution is developed, installed and monitored to ensure pipes are warm enough throughout the winter months.

EHT is typically used to maintain and lower the viscosity of industrial liquids such as:

  • Resins, epoxies and adhesives.

  • Petrochemical fractions.

  • Bitumen.

  • Food and beverage products such as glucose, chocolates, fats, vegetable and palm oils and other syrups.

  • In automotive manufacturing processes for glues and oils.

  • Maltose and dextrose used in the brewing industry.

Eltherm South Africa features a national footprint and includes a highly qualified and experienced team that offers a turnkey solution to EPC (engineering, procurement, construction) companies and specialist industries such as: constructions, automotive, power generation, oil and gas, petrochemical, mining, food and beverage and renewable energy with specific focus on CSP.

Globally, the eltherm group is regarded as one of the leading providers of electrical heat tracing systems. Notwithstanding the company’s comprehensive manufacturing operations, it retains its core competency as an engineering design company operating from 11 locations across the world with a staff force of 265.

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