Circulation heaters are used primarily to heat moving, flowing, or circulating fluid streams. Fluid flows through the heater, which transfers heat to the fluid stream. Any liquid or gas is generally acceptable for use with a circulation heater. Often, circulation heaters are used as stock tank heaters, asphalt heaters, livestock tank heaters, circulation tank heaters, dry well heaters, and septic tank heaters.
Circulation heaters can be configured to provide direct heating of process fluids or may be used for indirect heating of processes and systems.
When used for direct heating applications the process fluid circulates directly through the heater. This can be done by either installing the heater inline, when a constant supply of heated medium is required or in a side arm configuration where the heated medium is fed into a reservoir.
Inline heating allows for a constant supply of heated fluids. This configuration does not use a reservoir and the volume of fluid available is limited by the size of the circulation heater.
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Side arm heating is useful when a large volume of fluid needs to be heated. The heater is mounted alongside a tank or vessel. The inlet and outlet of the heater feed and supply fluids from this reservoir. In some applications several heaters are mounted in a side arm configuration, allowing for rapid heat transfer. Once the medium is brought up to a desired temperature only one or two circulation heaters are left running in order to maintain the desired temperature level.
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When used for indirect heating applications, a thermal fluid is circulated through a heat exchanger or other piping system to radiate thermal energy into a system. Circulation heaters can also be used in ovens, molding operations, extrusion lines, dryers as well as other applications where an indirect heat source can be used to control temperature.
Indirect Temperature Control of Extruders
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It is important to select a heater that is designed for its intended application. The viscosity, specific heat, flash temperature and corrosive properties of the fluid to be circulated through the heater may limit the watt density, recommended maximum temperature or require specific materials of construction. Common applications for circulation heaters include the heating of gases or vapors, clean water, process waters, high-purity waters, lightweight oils and degreasing solutions, heavy weight oils, medium weight oils, mild corrosive solutions, severe corrosive solutions, caustic solutions, and liquid paraffin.
|SOLUTION OR HEATER TYPE||ALKALINE OR ACID CONTENT (EST. % BY VOLUME)||SHEATH MATERIAL||WATT DENSITY (W/IN2)||VESSEL MATERIAL|
pH6 to pH8 (Neutral)
45 - 100
|Mild Solutions||Process Water and Very Weak Solutions Weak Solutions Demineralized, De-ionized or Pure Water||ph5 to pH9 (2 - 3%) 5 - 6%—||INCOLOY®||45 - 86
45 - 75
45 - 75
|Corrosive & High Viscous Solutions||Mildly Corrosive Solutions More Severe Corrosive Solutions Severely Corrosive Solutions||5 -15% 10 - 25% 30 - 60%||INCOLOY®||20 - 25
20 - 25
10 - 20
|Oil||Low Viscosity Oils Medium Viscosity Oils High Viscosity Oils (Fuel Oil)||——||Steel||20 - 25
10 - 20
5 - 15
|Air, Gases & Steam||Medium Temperatures to 750°F High Temperatures to 1400°F||
|INCOLOY®||20 - 25
10 - 20
|Steel; Stainless Steel|
Image Credit: Chromalox
Industrial circulation heaters are typically powered by electricity and use either flanged or screw plug immersion heating elements. The use of immersion heating elements allows the user to replace or exchange heating elements without disrupting the entire system.
Important parameters to consider when specifying circulation heaters are performance specifications, applications and mounting criteria.
Performance specifications for immersion heaters include maximum operating temperature, AC voltage, heating capacity and watt density.
Maximum Operating (Sheath) Temperature
Maximum operating (sheath) temperature is the highest temperature that the heater's sheath (or protective cover) may reach. This is not the maximum temperature a heated substance may reach.
AC Voltage Required
AC voltage is the minimum alternating current (AC) volts required to operate the cartridge heater.
Measured in kilowatts (kW), heating capacity is the wattage that a circulation heater can deliver.
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Watt density is a good measure of how quickly circulation heaters can transfer heat to a heated surface.
High-watt density immersion heaters should not be used with extremely viscous materials, explosives, or substances that are not well circulated because the risk of fire or scorching increases as fluid viscosity and heater-watt density increase.
When installing or mounting a circulation heater the primary specifications to consider are the type of connections, the flange or thread diameter used for the heating element, and the inlet and outlet separation distance.
Image Credit: WARREN ELECTRIC CORPORATION
Flange Mount / (ANSI) Flanges
Circulation heaters are equipped with ANSI flanges. Immersion heating elements are installed by bolting the unit to a matching flange welded to the vessel wall. ANSI flanges are specified by a nominal pipe size and pressure class rating. Common pressure classes for ANSI flanges are: 150, 300, 400, 600, 900, 1500 and 2500psi.
Image Credit: ASB Heating Elements Ltd.
Screw Plug / NPT Threaded
Circulation heaters are equipped with national pipe threads (NPT). Immersion heating elements are installed with tapered pipe fittings that screw into a threaded well. Tapered threads have a concentric thread diameter and are used for sealing without gaskets. Tapered pipe fittings specified by ANSI/ASME adhere to national pipe thread (NPT) standards.
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Flange or Thread Diameter
The diameter of the mounting flange or pipe thread is a nominal size describing the bore of the flange or diameter of a pipe thread. A circulation heater will generally have identical inlet and outlet diameters.
Inlet and Outlet Separation
The inlet and outlet separation distance is measured on center between the return or supply and discharge ports.
Related Products & Services
Band heaters are ring-shaped heaters that clamp onto a cylindrical object and heat via conductive heat transfer.
Cartridge heaters are cylindrical devices generally inserted into a heated substance.
Coil Heaters and Cable Heaters
Coil heaters and cable heaters are heating elements formed from straight (uncoiled) segments of round or square heating cable.
Cylindrical Ceramic Fiber Heaters
Cylindrical ceramic fiber heaters consist of an iron-chrome-aluminum (ICA) heating element and a thick layer of ceramic fiber insulation within a cylinder-shaped housing.
Duct heaters are used to heat moving gas streams.
Flat Ceramic Fiber Heaters
Flat ceramic fiber heaters consist of an iron-chrome-aluminum (ICA) heating element and a thick layer of ceramic fiber insulation within a non-curved housing.
Immersion heaters are used in applications that require immersing the heater in the substance to be heated.